Contemporary Christian artists Michael W. Smith and Shawn McDonald are making their way to Indiana Wesleyan University Homecoming weekend, and their audiences are overlapping in ways they haven’t before.
“We try to select our artists based on age demographics,” Lance Percy, associate vice president for Advancement and Alumni Relations, said.
Smith’s concert is geared toward the middle-aged and older alumni, he said, but this year, more younger people are interested in attending.
“Michael is unique in that way. He kind of crosses over a lot,” Percy said. “A lot of freshmen parents were planning to come back and go with their student. We don’t always have the benefit of selecting an artist with that broad of an appeal.”
The Student/Young Alumni Concert, on the other hand, is created to appeal more to the students and younger generation of alumni — hence, the performance of Shawn McDonald, who began his career in 2004.
The Shawn McDonald Concert, featuring Jordan Brown and Josh Lavender (alumni ‘12), will occur at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center Auditorium.
The concert order will be Brown, Lavender, then McDonald. Brown said she plans on performing a couple of covers of secular pop songs and then three of her originals, including her single “Grace Unexpected,” then probably end on a worship song.
Having talked to Lavender and hearing that he’d be doing a four-piece band style, and knowing McDonald’s recent music as being more pop-sounding, Brown decided to try and balance out the musical stylings. Though her band is typically more electric drums driven, she opted for more of an acoustic feel.
“Imagine Mumford and Sons meets Adele meets Katy Perry — [that’s] the sound we’re going for,” Brown said.
Her band consists of herself on acoustic guitar, Daniel Rife (alumnus ‘11) on accordion, Anthony Francis (alumnus ’10) on banjo, Alex Krupp (alumnus ’13) on cajon, Adam Butler (sr) on percussion, Chelsea Jensen (sr) on glockenspiel, Stacey Fisher (sr) on piano/keys, and Dan Strope (jr) on bass.
“It’s always an honor to play anything at Indiana Wesleyan,” Brown said.
And with Lavender’s May 2013 EP “The One My Soul Loves” and upcoming EP “Hope in Jesus,” Brown says she is excited to reconnect with him as well.
The Homecoming Concert with Michael W. Smith, who came to Marion once before in 1987, featuring IWU Chorale, will occur the following day at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, in the Chapel Auditorium.
The Chorale, made up of 100 student members and 80 alumni members, will be singing as backups for four songs with Smith, according to Percy.
Percy said IWU might get the chance to hear Smith perform some of his more recently recorded music, such as songs from his worship album, “Sovereign,” released this past May, and his first-ever album of traditional hymns, “Hymns,” released in March.
With Smith attracting various age demographics, students and alumni have a better chance to connect this year.
“Indiana Wesleyan is a fantastic university, but the people are what make it the greatest,” Brown said. “Just seeing the people, seeing old friends, reconnecting that way is probably what I’m looking forward to most.”