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By ROBERT VILLANUEVA
Floating around somewhere might be evidence of the early inclinations of Ryan Severns to pursue a musical career.
“I have been singing since before I can remember,” Severns said. “And I think my dad still has a cassette of me singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ soon after I learned how to talk.”
A Christian/gospel artist with R & B, soul and pop influences, Severns originally is from Hartville, Ohio, but is an Elizabethtown resident. Music, he said, has been “a huge part” of him for most of his life.
“My dad, Rob Severns, was in a rock band when he was younger and can play any instrument you put in front of him,” Severns said.
Likewise, his mom, Elaine Severns, was a major influence. Elaine passed away Jan. 1, 2006, but Severns credits her with being the one who taught him to sing harmonies by her example in church and through singing with his dad at many gigs “back in the day.”
The music bug bit him early, and he recalled auditioning for “The King and I” at Carousel Dinner Theater in Akron, Ohio, when he was 6.
“I made it in the show, but after some thought, my parents thought it may have been too early to get me involved in a show like that,” he said. “Eventually, I ended up being in three shows at the Carousel. It was the largest Dinner Theater in the U.S., so it was very neat to work there and be making some money so young, as early as third grade.”
The first musical he performed in at the theater was “South Pacific,” when he was in the third grade.
Severns participated in musicals, plays and productions through school and church. Additionally he performed in all his school and church choirs.
“I have also been a part of the praise and worship team at all of my churches,” he said.
After graduating in fall 2005 from Ohio University with a degree in music education with a choral emphasis, Severns became K-5 general music teacher. He taught at Wellston City Schools in Wellston, Ohio, for a year and a half as a long-term substitute.
Severns also was a percussion instructor for the Wellston High School band.
OU was also where a friend gave him the nickname “Sevy.”
Though he has learned to play trumpet, clarinet, violin/viola, guitar, mandolin and “other random instruments,” voice, keys and percussion instruments are his instruments of choice, he said.
“My most comfortable place is singing from the piano or singing from the drum set,” Severns said. “I tend to flock to a piano or drum set if I spot one in a room and lose all track of my social life and get into my own little world of music.”
Weddings, church services, karaoke and open mic events are among the venues at which Severns performs. While he does cover songs, he prefers the creativity of writing his own music, he said.
“Lyrics tend to be the last thing I add to a song I am writing, but it depends,” Severns said. “Sometimes it all falls together very quickly with a lyrical concept of a new song that very easily comes together.”
While he believes the musical highlight of his career is yet to come, Severns cited a November 2008 “Band With a Mission” event in Nashville that showcased three of his original songs and winning the Online Idol competition, modeled after American Idol, in 2003, as top moments in his career so far.
Recently, Severns recorded “O’ Holy Night” and an original song “Just Kiss Me,” of which he also released a remix. His work has been featured on benefit albums. He continues to write new music and hopes someday to create nonprofit arts schools for those without financial means to attend otherwise.
A lot of his songwriting inspiration can be traced back a few years.
At his mother’s funeral in 2006 he sang a song he wrote that she had heard him playing as a piano instrumental while he was still writing it. She told him she really liked it.
“After she passed away, I had no doubt in my heart and in my mind that the song was for her,” Severns said. “The lyrics came quickly to me, as it was meant to be.”
The song is titled “You Gave It All.”
Since then, Severns has been known writing music was a way to pass along what his mother instilled in him as well as a form of therapy.
“I firmly believe that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished through the power that God has given us through the gift of music,” he said. “I believe it was designed to set people free and bring much glory to God in the process. I want to be a part of that process for the rest of my life on earth.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.