Issue: Spring/Summer 2015

The Joy in The Fight

Matthew Dean '15

Houghton is the place where countless students have received their calling from the Lord. Justin and Hannah (Prentice ’13) Bowersox ’12 received theirs during a Mayterm in Buffalo. One evening, Justin and Hannah—who were dating at the time and are now married—put their creative minds together and wrote five worship songs. That night sparked a fire in their hearts to pursue music as a vessel to reach the lost.

Upon returning to campus in the fall, Hannah and Justin recruited two other talented musicians. Justin “Mosy” Moser ’13 and Dan Larson ’13 joined on the spot, and the band now known as Samecity was born.

Committed to pursuing music with all of their energy and resources, the four friends accepted any and every gig they could. Hannah describes their college playing days: “We were very ambitious but definitely did not understand how things worked. Our expectations were constantly crushed, but we continued to play in the most random places, sometimes driving five hours for a thirty-minute set. Even though we rarely got paid, something made us want to keep pursuing this lifestyle.”

After graduation, the group prayerfully sought God’s will for the next step in their ministry. Was music their vocational calling, or was it time to go their separate ways? The group unanimously decided to move to music capital Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue their calling.

The decision to leave family and friends to embark upon an adventure of uncertainty was one that “didn’t make a lot of sense to people,” admitted Justin. Despite the naysayers, the lack of connections, and unfamiliarity with the city, they felt confident that God had big things in store for them in Nashville.

The transition from Houghton to Nashville has, at times, proven frustrating, but it has also been fulfilling. “Due to the sheer volume of musicians in Nashville, the competition can be extremely fierce and intimidating when first entering the scene,” said Dan. “On the flip side, being surrounded by musicians and producers can be extremely rewarding once you do start making those connections.” The band is finally starting to reap the rewards of their patience. They have gained some invaluable connections that have allowed them to record and produce their music in Dark Horse Studios, a music studio that has yielded albums from artists such as Relient K, Tenth Avenue North and Taylor Swift.

Each member of the band is balancing life as a musician with a “regular” day job. Hannah is a tutor, Justin waits tables, and Dan and Justin both work in retail. The physical and emotional strain has taken a toll on each of them. “After being here a year and a half, there are definitely days when we feel like we have no more left to give, we’re exhausted from having basically two full-time jobs, and we’re wondering if our hard work will ever pay off,” explained Hannah. “Ultimately, we feel like God is calling us to this, and however tired we get, the joy of sharing Christ’s love with others constantly fills us up again, and we are encouraged to keep fighting for this dream.” Providing encouragement and staying positive has been essential in maintaining morale and healthy relationships within the group. The most uplifting moments of their ministry occur when they hear stories from those whose lives they have touched. After one concert, a woman approached the band in tears. She recounted the story of her sister who had recently passed away and expressed that their song “There’s An Ocean” was instrumental in keeping her going through her grief.

“That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” asserts Hannah. “Not to get the thanks but to hear how God is using our music to touch the lives of people.”