“Whenever people not from South Bend ask me about what it’s like being a musician from South Bend, I have nothing bad to say. I owe a lot of gratitude to it. It’s helped me to develop myself as an artist, and to grow. Absolutely to grow. It’s like good soil.”
Brittany Lee Moffitt is an unassuming character in stature, presence and demeanor. Where there may be an air of arrogance and pretentiousness in some artists or songwriters, Brittany has either never known it, or outgrown it.
After studying songwriting around the world in places like Chicago and Germany, and recording and performing with her own band and other artists, she has made something of a heroine’s journey back to her roots, one marked by trials, humility and belief.
The Michiana made songwriter has been in her home corner of the world for the last few years, toiling, as many songwriters do, to align her art with her most authentic self, finish that next project and finally hit the road for a real tour. Not that she has been inauthentic, or hasn’t finished projects, or toured. She has done it all professionally, but she is in the season many artists know too well: the season of waiting.
“Right now people are asking when am I releasing the next album,” Brittany says. “There’s been so much change in process, and curve balls. I’m just rolling with it.”
Brittany planned for her next album to be finished by spring 2018. She also planned to tour a good portion of the country in summer 2018. But there were obstacles along the way, and unforeseen circumstances that had her feeling the time wasn’t quite right. The album has yet to be finished and the tour was narrowed down to two dates out of state.
“I think a higher power put a stop to it because it wasn’t time yet,” she says.
Talking about a higher power is not something Brittany does lightly. She is a born-again Christian, in her own way, and believes the presence, love and goodness of God is in everyone. Years of substance abuse, addiction and bad relationships led her to God and an endeavor to make her audience feel deep emotion in her lyrics.
“I think performances are very emotional, and maybe a little dramatic,” she says. “But I am trying to let my higher power speak through me.”
Self-reflection on her faith and how it influences her and her music has been a significant part of her season in South Bend. Brittany feels in some way that the culture of the music industry has forced her to carefully analyze how she portrays herself. In a time when, to her, it seems every songwriter and performer is building his or her platform around image and branding, Brittany is trying to center her platform on the substance and message of her music.
“I’m sort of in a quiet place about (music industry) right now, because in some ways I feel a little discouraged and annoyed. But I think I know what the purpose of my music is, which is to challenge how people feel about things,” she said. “I don’t even know half the time why I’m doing this lately because I’m thinking about that a lot. But regardless, I think I know the purpose of my music, which is to get people to feel on personal level… to think about a power greater than themselves…”
Moffitt’s music is a combination of melodically driven pop with flares of indie, R&B and soul, and laced with reflective, melancholy lyrics. Her songs walk the lines of relational despair and renewed optimism, leaving her audiences with what she describes simply as emotional movement.
“’Moved’ is a word I’ve heard a lot,” Moffitt said. “There’s something to be said about making someone feel something, even if it makes them feel uncomfortable.”
Returning to her home turf has also reminded Moffitt of some of the imagery and sounds that first moved her and found their way into her music. In one of her more popular songs “19 Ducks,” Moffitt sings about specific imagery in New Carlisle. In other songs she references the nature and beauty of the Michiana region, and references specific events that took place there and have influenced the person and the artist she’s become.
“There are a couple on my EP that are clearly influenced by the Midwest environment.”
The music, addiction and God are all tied back to the greater South Bend area. It’s where it all started for Moffitt, and it’s where the full circle stopped before she picks up and goes again. She’s found her time in back in South Bend to be full of healing, rest and reminders of why she writes and performs. Being back in South Bend has introduced Moffitt to dozens of new artists, musicians and collaborators.
“When I was in Chicago, everything I was doing was coming to this standstill,” she said. “Coming back to South Bend was a big decision for me in 2015. But then all of the sudden I was introduced to this insanely awesome culture of music and art that does exist in South Bend. I’ve since collaborated with tons of local artists, and I’ve received a ton of support too.”
The music and art scene of greater South Bend is different than what Moffitt was used to in other settings, but she appreciates it for the reflection and renewal it’s brought her. While still working on her own album, she’s also joined a psychedelic rock band called In This Style, who she’ll be recording an album with soon.
“This is a close, tight knit, smaller, but more vibrant scene. There’s a lot of richness — musical richness and artistic richness.”
The timing for certain moves and steps forward may not have been right, and she may be relearning and rediscovering what the music means for and her audience, but Brittany Lee Moffitt’s season of waiting and rejuvenation in South Bend has been anything but stagnant.
“I would not be where I am right now if I hadn’t moved to South Bend and become part of the music in our scene out here.”