Abigail Stamper is a freshman music business major from Middletown, Ohio. Stamper is a member of AU’s Women’s Chorus and performs in a chapel band.
When did you start pursuing music?
In my house the rule was, “You have to play piano, and you get to choose your second instrument.” I really wanted to play piano, but I started to really pursue it as a career idea when I was 14. I realized how much the music industry had an influence on my life, but there weren’t a lot of people I genuinely looked up to as people. I knew I appreciated their music, but they weren’t the best people. I felt the call on my life to go into the music industry and be a person of integrity because it has so much influence on society that we don’t even realize. Even if I could just be friends with the really sad artist, that could make a difference.
What was it like to travel so much in your childhood?
I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, but I only lived there until I was 2 years old. My dad is a pastor, and he felt like he had done his time in Florida and that he needed to move somewhere else but we didn’t know where. A church in Indiana needed a youth pastor, so we ended up moving to North Webster. From ages 2 to 10 I was there, and I thought it was so cool at the time because there was snow and the community was really good. I was 10 and my brother was 5, and my parents thought that we should go somewhere else so we could experience more things. We moved back to Florida for five years. The biggest part of us living there was just experiencing diversity and culture. Even though I was homeschooled, we were out every day interacting with people and hearing their stories. Cultivating a world view, meeting people of different religions and ethnic backgrounds and understanding that was the biggest thing for me living in Florida. It helps with communication and respect.
Then we moved to North Carolina. That was really interesting because we learned so much in Florida and then we were in the Bible Belt with the confederate flag and heavy racism. I was trying to figure out how we could use what we learned in Florida to communicate what we think is truth and respect. I made really good friends, and I did my community college stuff there. That was really important for me genuinely learning to maintain myself and be motivated and prepare me for actual college, not community college. Now we’re in Ohio, and it’s pretty fresh, so I don’t have much to say about it other than that we’re there now.
What is your dream career?
The dream of all dreams is a singer, songwriter, recording and touring artist. I feel like that could be a thing because I’ve met some smaller artists who are kind of doing what I want to do, which is just opening for bands or even being the headliner but in really small venues with 300 people.
They make a living, and they get to make music, but it’s not like they’re so famous they can’t do anything. They’re also not so small that they can’t make a living. They’re getting to make music and do what they’re passionate about, but it’s actually raw and pure energy that they can give because they’re not worn by the media. They get to travel, too, which is a big thing for me.
With me moving around a lot, I’ve learned that I kind of have to keep moving or else I get really stagnant and bored. I think I would be good at a touring lifestyle. When we were moving to North Carolina, we didn’t have a house for about nine weeks. For six of those weeks, we just drove around, and I just love that kind of stuff. I don’t really get tired of it. I just want to see and experience as much as I can.
I just really want to perform and write because that’s how I communicate best with people. I’m not very succinct with my words, but even if my songs aren’t that deep, people understand where my heart is. More songs feel like home than places. I want to make those songs for people where they hear it and they think, “Oh, I’m safe now,” no matter where they are. I just want to be a safe place for people. The biggest way I know how to help people and keep singing is even in chapel and stuff. I can be a vessel for people to understand worship. I don’t want it to be about me, but I want it to be a passage for people to understand their thoughts and feelings. It’s not even about me being a performer.
What is your biggest challenge in pursuing music?
I have vocal cord dysfunction. It is an anxiety disorder that I was diagnosed with just a year and a half ago, but I’ve been struggling with it since I was 16. My vocal chords close involuntarily, and for most people, it happens during a panic attack, but mine is consistent. It makes breathing very difficult, and it makes singing like death. It hurts so bad. I’ve gone to lots of doctors, and nobody really knows the answer. Every day I wonder if I should keep trying or if singing is worth it, but every day my question is answered. I might not ever get healed, but since it is an anxiety disorder, it has opened up so many mental health conversations. So many people have been able to get help because they’ve talked to me and confided in me. I’m grateful for it every day.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
My parents. Everyone thinks that I was brainwashed by my parents because I was homeschooled, but genuinely, I’ve just seen them in every aspect of life, and they handle things so well. My dad is an incredible musician, and he plays around 15 instruments. That inspires me as a musician. Yes, he’s a musician, but the biggest part of his heart is just for people. He’s so gifted, but the only reason he keeps making music is so he has a way to help people. He doesn’t want to waste that gift, but it’s never been about creating art or being a showman. His goal as a worship pastor is to create a space where people can connect with God and other people. Even though I don’t want to be a worship artist, I know that I can do that just being who I am.
My mom is a very gifted singer, and that’s where I get my vocals from. She’s an even better people person; people just trust her. I’ve learned from my mom how to listen to people. My dad knows how to talk to people. He likes to tell stories, and he’s good for when people don’t want to talk. My mom is good for when people do want to talk. She helps me know how to listen and care for people who are maybe more fragile.
Through their personalities, I’ve just seen how to better reflect God to people. I’ve never seen people do it like they do. People are like, “Well you’re just a Christian because your parents are,” and partially that’s correct because they’ve shown Jesus to me so authentically. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. They let me study other religions on my own, and I’m not blind to them, but this is what I know that works.
How does faith play a role in your life and career aspirations?
Faith plays a huge role in my life, because the career I’m pursuing isn’t that stable. I know that God put on my heart when I was 14 that I need to help other musicians. As much as I want to give that up sometimes, I can’t because I know that God has a great purpose. In every person that I’ve met, I’ve learned something about God’s personality, and I’ve learned something about myself. It always comes back to communicating with other people and using my talents to do that best. He’s just told me to keep following that because that is how I reach and connect with people.