A few weeks ago singer and Belmont University student Louisa Wendorff had a ticket to fly home, but bumped the flight so she could stay in Nashville and finish up her latest passion project. Instead of boarding a plane, she ventured to Lieper’s Fork with Belmont pals Devin Dawson and Blythe Thomas to record a video of their mash-up of two Taylor Swift songs. It was a life changing decision.
The video blending “Blank Space” and “Style” went live Dec. 23 on Wendorff’s YouTube channel. On Dec. 27 Swift shared it, along with the word “OBSESSED,” with her 49.4 million Twitter followers. The next day Swift posted it on Facebook, where she reaches almost 73 million fans.
Almost instantly the video’s popularity exploded. It has been viewed nearly 3 million times, covered by countless national media outlets, and Wendorff’s EP, Arrow, shot to No. 2 on iTunes’ singer/songwriter chart.
The idea for the mash-up originated during Thanksgiving weekend. Thomas recalls, “Louisa, Devin and I hung out. They got a guitar and started working on it that night.”
“It came together naturally and easily,” says Wendorff. “Devin’s an awesome friend. He’s a musical genius with writing, singing and everything. I love working with him, and had pulled him in on a previous video we did.”
Dawson (full name: Devin Dawson Durrett) turned to twin brother/Belmont student Jacob Durrett for the sound recording. Durrett says, “We started recording guitar, and Devin recorded his harmonies before Louisa recorded her top-line. They had rehearsed it so much that they knew exactly what they wanted to do. They had all the harmonies and pretty much the whole song was done by the time Louisa came in to do her vocal part.”
Dawson and Durrett worked on the recording until 3 a.m. the night before the video shoot. “We were so excited and passionate about it,” says Dawson.
That same night, Thomas graduated from Belmont and finalized the video treatment. She says, “The idea for the video came after Louisa and Devin played the mash-up for me. We had the same idea at the same time. Louisa said, ‘What if we were standing face to face and singing the song?’ And I said, ‘Well, what if you guys were standing back to back?’ And at the same time we were like, ‘We should have the camera spin around you.’ We wanted it to build as the video progressed. We walked in circles around them for five or six takes to get the video.”
Everyone who worked on the project says they have benefited from Belmont’s collaborative environment. “We literally all need each other,” says Dawson. “At Belmont there are performers, and there are people in the background like engineers. It’s like a smaller version of the music industry, and we’re a family for four years of our lives. We all grow together and it cultivates collaboration.”
Wendorff agrees, “The community there is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, all the support we’ve received from fellow Belmont students and friends—people we know and don’t know—is so humbling and truly encouraging. I’m so blown away. We’re working hard and it’s definitely going to keep going from here.”