The one constant that can be found throughout the history of music is change. Genres morph into new sounds based on society’s inevitable shifts; bands form just to sizzle into nonexistence. While these are broad changes in music, change can be specific. New Colors, a dorm-born band led by Gerald Potts, is looking to be that specific change.
After his previous band broke up, Potts decided it was time to start something more stable. Reaching out to his fellow Dunn Hall resident Eli Cooke, Potts discussed his desire to explore different ideas in music.
“We wanted to blend a lot of contemporary genres to create new colors,” said Cooke. “Thus, New Colors was born.”
After Cooke joined as bassist, the band still needed a drummer and a lead guitarist. Jacob McDonald of Smith Hall was recruited to be the drummer, and Potts’ roommate, Jonah Warren, joined as the lead guitarist. Rachel Morris, a keyboardist residing in Morrison Hall, was the last to join.
Worth noting is the influence the dorms had on helping Potts piece New Colors together. This campus connection kept the band tight. Dorm life has undoubtedly had an impact on the lives of the band members. Morris, McDonald and Potts are all discipleship coordinators in their respective halls, while Warren is a resident assistant in Dunn Hall.
Many members of New Colors spoke on the influence the dorms had on the band, particularly the ease of collaboration. The close vicinity presented by the dorms allowed the members of the band to build creative chemistry quickly.
“I don’t think it would’ve happened if we weren’t in the same dorm,” said Cooke. “We’d just jam in the dorm occasionally, which would help us bond too.”
Dorm life is quite remarkable in that regard. Dorms tend to resemble non-stop hotels where friendships and cliques can grow out of nothing more than a wave. Being around each other so often allowed the process of “creating new colors” to flow more easily.
According to Cooke, this “helped to create the motivation to continue to work on songs.”
The creative process, in the eyes of Potts, usually begins with him forming the skeleton of a song alone. He then brings the base idea to the rest of the band, where they work to spice the song up and give it a group vibe.
After a period of practicing their new catalog of songs, the band looked to share their music publicly. This meant finding ways to play on campus. A short set was performed at Sho-Dunn, Dunn Hall’s equivalent to a talent show. New Colors was then asked to play AU’s “Auld Lang Syne,” a New Year’s celebration of sorts. The audience was quite receptive to the sets, which was encouraging to the young group.
Warren remembered the performances being “nerve-racking,” but important to the growth of the group nevertheless. Another performance at the subsequent Sho-Dunn followed, but New Colors already had their ambitions set on a different kind of exposure.
An important goal of New Colors is glorifying God with each creative endeavor. New Colors entered the studio to record their song, “I Need Your Grace” with that mission in mind. The single, which is available on most streaming platforms, has a vigorous, enthusiastic energy throughout. Each member has an audible influence on the song, stretching back to the inclusion of everyone during the creative process.
Potts said the single’s release went more than well.
“Views were coming in from places as far as Germany and Italy,” he said. “A church in Kentucky even picked it up after hearing it.”
Success was certainly a desire, but the members of the band were more concerned with having fun and making content that is important to them.
Content is just what New Colors is working on now. After the successful release of “I Need Your Grace,” the group has set their ambitious sights on an album release for next summer.
While the yesteryears of campus had Dunnder Smithlin, another exciting dorm-born musical group, perhaps today’s campus can look towards New Colors to fill that hole. If the matter is up to Gerald Potts, New Colors will be looking at more than just enticing AU’s relatively small masses.
“We’re making music for people who need to hear things,” said Potts. “We don’t want to be all worship; we want to share what God has to say. We want to reach the people other artists wouldn’t reach.”
With that mission statement, New Colors just may be able to achieve whatever they set their minds to.