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We were first introduced to musician and artist Betsy King when our Midwest Editor sat down with her in her charming home to chat about music and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Betsy is an accomplished creative who is well versed in the Michigan music scene so we jumped at the opportunity to have her share a beautiful story about an album listening party that embodies everything a creative community should stand for.

If you have been to Ann Arbor then you know it is an amazing place to be a creative professional. The music scene is especially vibrant, supportive, and collaboration is king. Artists here can’t wait to see each other’s performances and regularly spend nights off enjoying each other’s work. When I reflect on the art and music scene, it comes as no surprise to me that I came into my own here, met my husband here, and started my family here. This is a city of wonderful shows, intimate after-parties, full of bliss and laughter. So many nights like these glow in my memory. One such beautiful night, at the end of September 2015, occurred when a group of friends, fans, and family gathered for a candlelit first listen of the new album, Outlier, by Ann Arbor singer/songwriter, Chris DuPont.

Chris is an established artist in the Ann Arbor area, a deep thinker, and a musician of the highest caliber. He’s also my family. We were married in the fall of 2012, and just celebrated our third anniversary. I co-produce his albums, he co-produced my son, and all-in-all it’s a pretty glorious setup. Chris hit the studio for Outlier mere weeks after our son was born, so this debut and listening party meant so much for, us—like another kind of huge, monumental birth. Sharing the first listen with close friends and family was absolutely perfect. We commandeered the home of some family friends, cooked food, and lit candles. Though we’d all been waiting a long time to hear the record, the atmosphere was calm, and non-anxious. If you’ve met Chris, you’ll know this makes sense, both Chris and the songs he creates give off a certain warmth. When Chris interacts with friends and fans alike, he radiates a unique sense of focus. It’s hard to stop yourself from slipping into a deep, authentic conversation. We all crammed onto couches and loveseats, pulled up chairs, and claimed spots on the floor around a large set of studio speakers connected to Chris’s laptop. With an almost inaudible click of the mouse, the experience was begun, and we were all swept together to the shores of Lake Michigan in November, to the view from a cloudy windowsill, to the intimate confessions of Chris’s mind. And it was wonderful.

I had wondered if it would be awkward to sit silently in a room full of people, and listen to whole songs, especially in front of the writer, but I was so wrong, it was wholly spiritual. As each song ended, the room applauded, asked questions, and discussed. It was an intimate experience, a deep exploration of each other that we rarely experience anymore in our culture of speed and information and shuffle-play. The discussions continued long after we heard the album’s last track. I think I hugged the same people four or five times before we could actually tear ourselves away from each other. It was an amazing, intimate way to spend an evening reflecting on art with friends, and experiencing music in such an up-close and personal way.

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Outlier debuts nationally on November 13th. To learn more about Chris visit his website here.

Photos by HMN Photography