Mercer grad Whitney Layne returns to perform for homecoming

The Homecoming 2012 concert on Wednesday, Nov. 7 had two artists perform: Stevens Layne band and Corey Smith. The vocalists, Molly Stevens and Whitney Layne sat down with the Cluster to tell us a little about their background. Molly Stevens is a Mercer graduate and a former member of Phi Mu sorority.
Cluster: When did you graduate from Mercer?
Molly Stevens: I graduated in 2005 from Mercer and I had a major in english and in communications. Theater was my concentration at the time. Journalism was a brand new thing for Mercer. I took one journalism class and I probably would have majored in that but they didn’t have it when I was there.
Whitney Layne: Well Molly was actually teaching when I met her. When she first moved to Nashville, she was a teacher at a private Christian school and I asked her to come do some shows on the road with me because I was doing my own independent thing as an artist. She [Stevens] said, “I’m teaching, I hate it. I can’t believe I’m doing this, I moved to Nashville to do music.” She literally quit her job and came on the road with me, and that was the beginning of Stevens Layne.
C: So before you actually got into music, you wanted to do more musical theater?
S: Yeah, I really thought that musical theater was my niche. I loved acting and I grew up with a lot of theater here in Macon and studied it at Mercer. I did a lot of plays at Mercer and was very involved in the theater department. But, what I really loved about being in theater was the singing part. The music was really what has always drawn me.
C: What would you say are your biggest musical influences?
S: Mine for sure, are the Indigo Girls. I love the Indigo Girls, I’ve followed them my entire life. I love their lyrics, I love what they stand for, and I love that they’ve gotten all of their fans just doing it the grassroots way. They forget all the label people and just go out there and get their fans and do their shows. I like the soul music, I like Janis Japlin, that kind of thing.
L: I’d say I very much so followed power house female artists like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Dolly Parton. I never focused too much on what genre, I just listened to what inspired me. Molly introduced me to a lot of Georgia artists when we met and ever since I’ve been a huge fan of a lot of the same people that have inspired Molly throughout her lifetime.
C: How has the tour with Corey Smith been so far?
S: It’s been awesome. I grew up with Corey and went to hear him play when I was at Mercer. When I was in college, he was coming here and doing shows and stuff. He’s a really nice guy and he’s another one of those people that has just gotten fans from doing show after show. He worked on really getting that fan base. He didn’t really have to have a record label to do it.
L: He has earned every single fan that he has. It wasn’t given to him.
C: Do you have any fond memories of Phi Mu?
S: I have a lot of memories. I was very active in Phi Mu at Mercer. I was the social chair in my junior year of college. All of my best friends I keep in touch with now are Mercer graduates. My favorite memory? Well, at every formal, I would get up on the mic and start singing songs. I loved the charity aspect of Phi Mu too. We worked with the Children’s Miracle Network. Phi Mu is just so much fun and it really taught me a lot.
C: Is there anything in particular that you loved about Mercer homecoming?
S: Yes, one of my very first memories at Mercer was when I was a freshman. We had the big bonfire and perfect weather.I loved the skits. Phi Mu did a “Saved by the Bell” skit and I was Screech. One year for Homecoming we did “Hey-ya” from Outkast and did the whole dance to it. We had floats and a parade too. The parade would go down Adams Street and circle the block. It was pretty cool.