Artists perform and tell the stories behind their music

Lauren Duski performs her hit songs such as “Deja Vu” and tells about the stories behind them at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in “The Heart Behind the Music.” Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

Country music artists John Berry, Lauren Duski, Teddy Gentry and Lenny LeBlanc performed hit songs accompanied by the stories behind those songs.

“The Heart Behind the Music” was held on Oct. 18 starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. After the performance, attendees had a chance to meet the artists. Duski, finalist on the 12th season of “The Voice,” shared her thoughts on performing.

“I’ve played a lot of these songs for the first time, and to be able to do it with a couple legends was just an incredible experience and such an honor,” said Duski. “I’m on cloud nine to say the least.”




Sophomore undecided major Alison Garaudy has grown up listening to country music and attended the concert with her family. 

“I enjoyed it a lot,” said Garaudy. “It was really nice to hear the stories behind some of the songs.”

Duski discussed why she decided to pursue a career in music.

“I had someone reach out to me in high school after posting one of my originals on YouTube,” said Duski. “They told me that my song helped them through a recent family death, and I remember thinking how powerful music was and for me growing up and what I had been through and all the experiences it helped me through. To see my music connecting and resonating with others, it’s just incredibly powerful, and in that moment, I knew that I wanted to play music for the rest of my life.”

LeBlanc, a Dove Award winner, explained why people have an interest in country music.

“Country music really speaks to the core of what people’s lives are,” said LeBlanc. “It tells a story about this real life, and a lot of the songs are written from stories that actually happened to the songwriters and to the artists. It’s just a real earthy, kind of organic style of music. I think that’s what appeals to people.”

Duski believes the story in country music distinguishes it from other music genres.

“The reason I fell in love with country music is through the story,” said Duski. “For me, there’s so much honesty that you don’t necessarily feel in a lot of other genres of music. At least, I hadn’t as a kid. It always stuck with me, and I just feel like, in general, country music is trying to maintain that honesty, and I feel like that’s what keeps the genre going strong.”

Berry, a Grammy Award winner, expressed his thoughts on the concert. 

“I thought it was awesome,” said Berry. “We had a great crowd tonight. It wasn’t a big crowd, but they were very much into it. They were a great audience to sing for.”

Growing up around music drew Berry to the art form.

“I grew up in a house with lots of music in our home,” said Berry. “My mom sang. My dad sang. My brother and sister sang. My dad helped me build a little studio in the basement of our house when I was a kid, and when I was in my late teens, I ended up recording my first couple of albums in that little studio and just sort of got into it.”

According to LeBlanc, his passion for music started “by accident.”

“I went to a friend’s house, and they asked me to sing,” said LeBlanc. “They were playing guitars, and I went and started singing, and they told me I sounded good. That was a surprise to me. And so, we went to the talent show, and we actually won the talent show. I began to fall in love with playing and singing, and that just became my passion.”

LeBlanc shared the source of his inspiration.

“I get inspired by a lot of things,” said LeBlanc. “I get inspired by God. I get inspired by my friends, by other songwriters, listening to music, making conversation. I think there’s inspiration wherever you look if you just listen and keep watching for it.”

Berry discussed which of his songs he likes most.

“‘Your Love Amazes Me’ is one of my all time favorites to get to sing,” said Berry. “I feel fortunate I got to record it. One of the songs I sang tonight that I wrote, ‘There Could Never Be Another Love’ is one of my favorites that I’ve written.”

For Duski, her song “Deja Vu” that she performed in “The Voice” finale and again at the Columbia Theatre stands out among the rest.

“All my songs come from experience whether it’s heartbreak or a friend who’s going through something, or a family member,” said Duski. “I think ‘Deja Vu’ is the most recent. It just helps me day-to-day is the best way to put it, just to have it out and out of my system, and it brought a lot of clarity in a time when I didn’t have a lot of answers. It’s definitely my favorite so far.”