Rains Draper expands his music passion

On the Westminster campus, music flows up and down every hall and pathway, and through each and every student, from orchestra classes to always anticipated talent shows and Messiah. Through these experiences, Senior Rains Draper discovered his talent and passion, and harnessed it to produce and share his very own original album, exploring the genre of folk and the power of guitar and voice.

Draper’s life has always been occupied by music. At Westminster, he took chorus and band classes throughout middle school, and at home, his family introduced him to the allure of the guitar.

“When I was 14, my dad gave me my first guitar, one that he had played in his childhood, and started teaching me basic chords and how to care for it. I was instantly hooked,” said Draper. “I started to play casually, slowly making a few of my own tunes.”

However, it wasn’t until high school that he got an opportunity to write his own music. In Draper’s junior year, he attended his second semester of school in Chewonki, an academy in Maine. The school focused on the sustainability of farming, and the final exam was a human ecology project, which Draper took as an opportunity to share his love of music.

“You could’ve chosen anything that portrayed the relationship between humans and nature,” said Draper. “I saw this as an opportunity to incorporate my love for music into a school project, and I decided to create and produce a small album.”

Draper used what he had learned from Westminster and his family to help him with the tedious songwriting process.

“Getting each of the lyrics and tunes to match was really difficult, but each part just came to me piece by piece,” he said. “For some of the songs, I tried to match a tune to the poem, and for others, both components just fit together naturally. I enjoy fitting them together like a puzzle and painting a picture using all of the elements”

For the production of his album, Draper found a music studio in Brunswick, Maine, with the help of two friends from Chewonki. Both of them appeared on the album, harmonizing with instrument and voice to help bring Draper’s music to life.

His final production, Common Ground, includes seven songs, many of which contain themes from the Civil War. Using just a guitar and a voice, Draper transports the audience back in time through feelings of despair and sacrifice, of victory and of loss.

Draper’s folk music, consisting of just acoustics and vocals, was inspired by the ambience of Chewonki, as well as the artists he had always loved.

“The atmosphere of Chewonki was outdoorsy, so it felt like the right kind of music,” said Draper. “I’ve always really loved folk music. As a kid, I’d listen to James Taylor, and John Denver, and the David Brothers, so I knew that I wanted to create something like that.”

Other musicians on campus listened to Draper’s productions and showered it with praise.

“I have listened to his album and was thoroughly impressed by the pure skill. The songs have a raw and mellow feel to show that a simple voice and guitar can create such a melodious tune,” said senior Frances Brown. “Neither instrument or voice ever overpowers the other and creates a gorgeous balance.”

Draper donated half of his revenue from Common Ground to a charity organization in Guatemala called the Tabitha House. The organization, founded by a woman from the city, works with families that live in the Guatemala City Dump, and provided education, meals, and activities to the children.

“I visited the Tabitha House when I was on a mission trip this past summer, and saw how much good they are doing and the potential for their organization to expand and rescue more families,” said Draper. “I wanted to help them through my music.”

With his success in music and an album on Spotify, Draper pursues his passion and shares it by performing in Georgia.

“I’ve performed at Smith’s Olde Bar at the open mic, around four times. I just go up and sing my songs, or a cover of someone else’s,” said Draper. “I’ve also performed at the Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth where there was a songwriters open mic, which is probably the biggest one I’ve ever done.”

Draper formed a band, named Eagle and Child, with other students at Westminster, including senior Frances Brown, junior Charlotte Brown, and sophomore Zachary Roe. They’ve performed at the Homecoming show, and hope to record their songs in the future if their schedules permit.

“It is fun to purely get a chance to play music with a group of skilled students,” said Frances Brown. “We generally play either acoustic or indie songs, and a playlist on Spotify for songs that would be fun to learn and play.”

In the future, Draper hopes to write songs and produce another album, and to continue to explore music with other musicians.

“I believe artists like him, who have such an innate skill to sing and truly understand music, will go far in a musical career,” said his bandmate Brown. “Even if it is just a hobby, I hope Rains never loses passion for guitar.”