Meet Whitney Mongé and Lauren Napier, two songwriters and virtual participants of the first Black Opry Residency - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Earlier this year, WXPN partnered with The Black Opry to host the organization’s first residency for emerging artists. Five songwriters were chosen from all over the country to come to Philly, share their music, and receive mentorship from music industry leaders. We met those five artists, Tylar Bryant, Denitia, Grace Givertz, The Kentucky Gentlemen, and Samantha Rise, multiple times from a World Cafe interview and performance, to a special Free At Noon during NON-COMM, to an emotional showcase downstairs at World Cafe Live.

But, there were two residents we didn’t get to introduce in person. Whitney Mongé and Lauren Napier are two songwriters who stood out in the pool of applicants, and joined The Black Opry Residency virtually, signing in on Zoom to participate in the workshops that week. Get to know these two residents better by reading more about them and and listening to their music at the links below; fans of Americana music won’t be disappointed.

Lauren Napier

An interdisciplinary artist living a nomadic lifestyle, Napier travels around the country working as a musician, a model, and a writer. As a songwriter, Napier threads together romantic vignettes with country-twinged, racing acoustic guitar, and her Southern roots give her voice a warm texture. Napier’s debut LP Mourning Moon came out in 2021. That record and more are available on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Of her time in the Black Opry Residency, Napier says, “it was a gift of many layers.” She took notes on essential industry skills like booking and bookkeeping. Above all, “the residency was a moment of inspiration, that continues to ripple into my daily life.”

Whitney Mongé

Whitney Mongé has coined her own genre: Folk ‘n Soul. Her warm voice and dynamic phrasing carries larger-than-life emotions of love and strength. She’s also generous with her talent, investing time in the next generation of artists as a coach for youth music programs in Seattle. A leader in her community, Mongé  has come a long way since her days as a busker, as documented in the film “Find Your Way: a Busker’s Documentary.” Her latest album features the Seattle Symphony, and she plans to release new music out of Austin, TX later this year.

Like other participating artists, Monge says she took away valuable information from the residency. “I have been integrating what I learned from each session and have a clearer view of how to approach today’s ever changing music industry.” And re-emphasizing a theme, she acknowledged her gratitude for the community surrounding The Black Opry. “It was an honor and pleasure to connect with other musicians who have the same desire to pursue their music in a genuine, real way. I look forward to witnessing what each artist creates from this endeavor.”

Next week, the next chapter of the Black Opry Residency begins with the launch of the podcast documentary about the workshops, the concerts, and the participants. Watch this space for more on that.

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