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Amanda Duncan Entertains in Lower HMU

Sara Wielenberg | Staff Writer | 01/26/2011

Singer and songwriter Amanda Duncan entertained students in the Lower Union on January 20 by invitation of CAB, the Campus Activity Board.

CAB hired Duncan to perform for students with her own songs, as well as a few familiar covers while they ate their lunches. She performed solo, playing her acoustic guitar or her mandolin for backup.

Duncan picked up guitar in her junior year of high school.

“I somehow got it into my head that my aunt and uncle were going to buy me a guitar,” admitted Duncan.

But when they didn’t, she got herself a guitar and began self-teaching with a book and tape.

“I wanted to play,” said Duncan. “I was sick of just singing along with the radio. Writing my own songs was more of an outlet.”

Duncan plays guitar, mandolin and banjo. She usually leaves the banjo at home, saying, “I can only travel with so many instruments through an airport.”

Her instrumental talents are primarily self-taught with the help of a few friends along the way.

“Friends taught me little things here and there,” she said. “You have to be around people who are better musicians than you to get better.”

As for choosing her favorite instrument, Duncan said, “Guitar is the one I know the best, but I like mandolin. It’s smaller, more my size.”

Someday she hopes to find the time to improve her instrumental talents, since she mostly focuses on her songwriting.

Duncan began her musical career by playing at open-mic nights at her college in Pennsylvania and in her hometown in New Jersey. Things just grew from there.

“I didn’t real plan on it; it just kind of happened,” Duncan said.

She describes her music as “Folk-pop.” Among her musical influences are Stevie Wonder, Dixie Chicks and Marc Broussard.

The past year has been Duncan’s busiest, performing over 70 shows.

“I play in college auditoriums or I’ll be an emcee for an event,” she said.

Duncan estimates that the crowds are usually ranging between 20 and 50 people.

For BSU students, she performed three covers, while the rest were her own.

“I’m not a fan of doing covers. For an hour show, I’ll play three covers tops,” she said.

Duncan thinks of herself more as a songwriter, so she wants her “songs to stand on their own.” She plays covers for the audience’s attention.

“It brings them back in when they hear songs they recognize,” she explained.

Students enjoyed the covers just as Dincan predicted.

“I like how diverse it is,” said freshman Jennifer Hackler. “She did some Backstreet Boys and her own stuff.”

Students were also rather receptive to Duncan’s original work.

“It’s good that she plays songs we know, but I like hearing her stuff too,” said freshman McKay Wise.

The lunchtime music was a pleasant experience for most.

“It’s nice that they [CAB] got someone to come and sing. She’s funny too,” said Wise.

“I’m loving it right now,” Hackler added during the last song.

Duncan manages all her own merchandise and marketing. In the Lower Union, she was handing out pens and selling her CDs as she conversed with students. For those who missed the performance, check out www.amandaduncan.com and Duncan’s Facebook page.

As parting words, Duncan said, “If someone wants to start playing instrument, play it. Don’t wait.”