(Kyle Hamrick (L) with Jordy Searcy (R); photo creds, Shem McConnell)

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, the Commons was transformed from a fluorescent study hall and hangout to a warm and intimate parlor, dimly lit by soft, white, star-like string lights. The audience of mostly MC students was situated on the floor, crisscross or in gray sofa chairs, or standing in circles. Many wore Vans and Chuck Taylors, light washed jeans with tasteful tears, and some variant of a patterned shirt. Others wore darker, more solid hues in forest greens, midnight blues, and grays. “I’ve said ‘aesthetic’ so many times tonight!” laughed Jared Vardaman, and many agreed with him.

This small concert benefitting the MC Dance Marathon and Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, put on by the Freshman Leadership Initiative Program (FLIP) was not unlike the salons and thinker’s dens of the Enlightened Age. It was a platform for realness, and a community for twenty-somethings. It was a welcome outlet for the musical and poetic performances of Austin Blue, Ryan Warnick, and Jordy Searcy, which were beautiful, insightful, and true.

This wasn’t Jordy Searcy’s first time performing to MC students. He played at Cups one year ago, and performed in Jackson in the fall. “It’s definitely something I look forward to,” Searcy said.

The travelling troubadour hails from Fairhope, Ala., is influenced by The Beatles, John Mayer, and Jacob Bell, and believes his blossoming musical career to be a calling from the Lord.

“I feel called to make misunderstood things understood,” Searcy said, “I write things that are true and try to give others the opportunity to share their truth.”

For example, his 2017 single “Dark in the City” exposes the social disparity between the different communities in Nashville, Tenn. Searcy lives on 12 South, one of the nicest parts of town he said, and yet he can drive down the road and immediately be in one of the poorest parts of the whole city. He tells the stories of his friends and the homeless people in his community, and wrote the song “to unite all the people in Nashville under the idea that we’re all made in God’s image.” It was one of the crowd favorites at the concert.

Another crowd favorite was another 2017 single release, “Explaining Jesus”, which exposes hypocrisy within the secular and Christian communities and apologizes for it. Before writing the song, Searcy said he had no interest in writing and performing songs about Christianity. After praying for a song for a long time, he realized he had to write a song that shows God for how beautiful he is.

“There are songs about Jesus, and then there are beautiful songs coming out of Nashville, but there weren’t a lot of beautiful songs about Jesus,” he said.

Longtime friend and MC junior Clark Kilgore, who saw Searcy grow from playing small church events to regional tours, said, “Jordy is an incredible friend to me and an example of what it looks like to follow your dreams for God’s glory.”

Judging by the crowd’s stillness, the drying of tears from the corners of many eyes, the rhythmic clapping and head nodding and singing along, Searcy is doing what he’s meant to do.

Openers Austin Bell and MC student Ryan Warnick played original compositions that warmed the crowd up brilliantly. Bell’s quiet yet powerful voice belted out deep and emotional lyrics, and Warnick’s bumpy and groovy stylings elevated the audience to a different level of realness and vulnerability. By the time Jordy Searcy took the stage, the audience was primed and ready. Their voices – rich, smooth, and airy – filled the entire room, and the audience sat still and enraptured, taking in their radiant energy and mesmerizing melodies.

The concert was a benefit for a new cancer treatment center at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in downtown Jackson.

“Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in the state, and all the money is going to build a new cancer treatment facility,” said Shem McConnell, sophomore, who codirects FLIP with sophomore Emery Applegate.

150 tickets were available to the exclusive fundraising event, and, according to Applegate, all 150 tickets were purchased for a total donation of $1,800.