Pursuing the Passion of Making Music

By Hannah Diles

During their time at Harding, seniors Joe Oliver and Addison Carney have pursued their passion for music by creating a band — Rivers West. The band has played at local venues and events on campus and has been met with immeasurable support from Harding’s student body. 

Building connections created opportunities for Oliver and Carney, whether it be in forming their own friendship, telling stories through their music or leaving an impact on other students.

“For me, playing, writing and recording music with Joe has been what has defined my time at Harding,” said Carney. “It has easily been my favorite thing I’ve done since being here at school. I’ve been able to do something creative that other people can take joy in, and I’ve been able to create it with a very close friend.”

Oliver and Carney met their freshman year in Armstrong Hall and developed a friendship through TNT men’s social club. They quickly discovered each other’s love for making music and began to share the songs they had written individually. Oliver and Carney played together every night, and their hobby culminated into a passion when they went public as a band. 

The band is a launching pad for creativity where Oliver and Carney collaborate on songs they write individually and format for Rivers West together. Each of their writing processes is different, but it offers a space to tell stories that resonate with their audience. 

“The song ‘Coming of the Dawn’ means a lot to me because of the topic of the song,” Oliver said. “Songwriting is a place to share topics from our stories. ‘Coming of the Dawn’ is about someone who has lost their way. We all lose our direction in life sometimes, but it is a reminder that everything will be okay. I think that’s something we all can relate to.”

The band’s music unites all ages on campus. Freshmen Emma Hatfield and Eve Haslam associate the beginning of their college experience with the stories from the Rivers West album. 

“Getting to know Rivers West has been a valuable part of my college experience so far,” said Hatfield. “Rivers West represents the soul and community of Harding. Listening to their songs is like meeting new friends, laughing without end and enjoying life as a student with the future ahead. It’s simultaneously comforting and exciting! Rivers West is more than my favorite band; it’s the memories of my college experience wrapped up into a single title.” 

Rivers West released their first full album, “Hold You Close,” in July 2022, with plans to record more singles and albums. 

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Categories: Students.