The Wonderful, Wacky Wynnm Murphy

Sitting on the custom kick-drum suitcase her father designed for her and surrounded by the woodsy backdrop beside Welch and Williams Halls, Wynnm Murphy, MCAS ’18, quickly rattles off the instruments she plays: the guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, kazoo, and, of course, her kick-drum. She’s even dabbled a bit with the piano. Her instrumental talent and warm voice culminate in a one-woman, folk-style performance that’s hard to forget. Murphy would modestly claim that it took just a bit of hard work and a few years of practice. Learning any one instrument takes strong desire, persistent practice, and a certain degree of natural talent, but how does one account for having eight different instruments under the belt while also being an accomplished singer?

Aside from performing regularly at Boston College Music Guild events—the open mics the guild holds every few weeks—Murphy also carves time out of her semester performing with Hello … Shovelhead and working at the Chocolate Bar in Stokes South a couple days a week. Last year as a freshman, she won BC’s Sing it to the Heights then Arts Fest’s Singer Songwriter competition in which she earned the chance to record a professional EP.

Despite what some would consider an inconceivably packed schedule, Murphy exudes her excitement and joy in her craft and endeavors without any sign of fatigue or boredom. Sophomore year brings along many new challenges and figurative roadblocks that can be frightening to returning students, but Murphy seems to take the new year’s demands and tests in stride, sporting a genuinely stressless smile that can charm and somehow relieve whoever she speaks to.

Murphy first discovered her musical ability when her father locked her in her bedroom with a guitar as a punishment for her teenage antics and told her she would have to practice until she had the basics down. Looking back, Murphy admits, “At the time I was so incredibly mad at him, stubborn, and angsty, you know, being a teenager, but now I couldn’t thank him enough for it.”

It’s impossible that Murphy’s father could have imagined what an impact his grounding would have had on her, but it’s intriguing that the ignition of her musical passion can be pinpointed to a precise moment, a moment of penance.

Working heavily in the vocal performance section of her high school’s arts program, Murphy’s instructor was so impressed with her that he suggested he would help her produce her own EP in her senior year. “It wasn’t the best final product,” Murphy explains, thinking back to the opportunity. “I was kind of young, and I’d never done any professional recording before so it was hard to perfect my performance for one take. It took quite a few tries to get a decent take at times. It was definitely a learning process, but I actually really loved being in the studio so I hope to go back into the recording studio soon.”

As the winner of the Singer-Songwriter competition this last spring, Murphy was supposed to be given the opportunity to record a second EP through BC, but, at least so far, that dream hasn’t come to fruition. “I was supposed to record an EP after the Singer-Songwriter competition, but no one ever contacted me,” she said. “I’m not sure who I was supposed to record it with. It was just said that the winner of the competition would get to record an EP. No one has reached out to me, however, so I feel a bit befuddled.” While no recording or release date has been set, Murphy is set to record her latest EP with Prof. Jon Sage.

Being a part of Hello … Shovelhead, Murphy enjoys injecting her humor and personality on stage and feels it’s a vital component of being a musician.

“I like to cover some songs that are vulgar,” Murphy notes, reflecting on her use of “The Boobs Song” for her Sing It to the Heights audition. “I mean, I find it funny. Sometimes people find them funny, sometimes they don’t, but overall as a performer, I love to tell jokes when I’m up on stage and I like to engage with the audience more because it makes the experience so much more personal. I think that’s what the music is about: bringing your audience in and showing them a piece of you and what you are all about.”

Murphy isn’t afraid to take risks and chances either. This past summer, she spent her time buskingstreet performingaround North American cities like New York, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Quebec.

“Of course there’re the people that will walk past you and not care at all and then there’ll be the people that are actually interested, they’ll throw you a couple dollars, they’ll ask you where you’re from, maybe they’ll take you out for a beer if you’re in Canada—and I’m legal in Canada!” She explains. “It’s a nice way to make new friends. It was about digging deep and finding just a bit of confidence to go out there and lay it all out on the line.”

Recounting a night spent in St. Sauveur, a small town outside Quebec, Murphy grew teary eyed. Several French-Canadian children waddled up to Murphy’s guitar case to throw in pennies and dimes for support. She believed that they weren’t  really even listening to the music that she was playing and that, instead, they were filled with joy just to give Murphy what they could nag out of their mothers’ pockets. Compared with a summer of traversing the continent, some might think that Murphy could be a bit restless readjusting to being back at BC. “Coming back to BC brought along many more responsibilities than last year,” says Murphy. “It’s opening the doors to my creative side I suppose. It’s inspirational coming back, seeing everyone, and getting back into the swing of things.”

For Murphy, the swing of things includes juggling eight instruments and ever-rising expectations both academic and creative. But judging by her confident smile, you would never know it.

Featured Image by Breck Wills / Heights Graphics

Photos by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

About Chris Fuller 166 Articles
Chris is the Arts & Review Editor for The Heights. He is obsessed with 'Star Wars,' The Bee Gees, and funk in general. He tries to live life to its fuller. (Get it?)