By Brooke Hill | News Editor
A song for a ski trip resulted in a band and an album for Baytown senior Taylor Buntin and Baytown sophomore Angela Tallent.
The two students started doing music ministry with their church in junior high, and their passion for songwriting and singing blossomed into a full-blown band in years following. In high school, the band More Than Sparrows recorded three songs as an EP on iTunes, but a short break followed as Buntin went off to attend Baylor University and Tallent remained in high school.
The summer between Buntin’s sophomore and junior years, he decided he wanted to do a big project. He gathered money for the project, and Tallent helped him with vocals. The album “Even Still” came out in October 2017 and consisted of eight songs.
“It was fun; we were putting out music, but we didn’t really have a mindset of ‘we’re going to be a band,’” Buntin said.
The band prioritizes positive messages and relating to its audience rather than shooting for fame and fortune through music.
“When we recorded our first full-length album in 2017, we were really just doing it for the fun of writing music. This gave us the freedom to be vulnerable and honest because we had no real intention of it being commercial,” the band’s website says.
Last year, Buntin said his friend, Houston senior Jordan Greer, suggested making shirts and getting together a full band. He said while they were sitting at Moody Memorial Library studying, Greer went to the website of Hole in the Roof, a promotional products supplier, and received a quote. They decided they were willing to put the money in to make it happen. Shortly after, the band started playing house shows.
The name “More Than Sparrows” was inspired by the Gospel of Matthew, Buntin said. Matthew 10:29 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
“It’s kind of the idea that God cares so much about these birds, and aren’t you worth so much more than them?” Buntin said.
The band has played at Common Grounds twice — its most recent performance was Sept. 21. Buntin said the number of band members varies based on the show; he said for house shows, sometimes it’ll be just him and Tallent doing vocals and acoustics, but for shows like Common Grounds, they bring out additional members. Other band members include Greer, Spencer Lee, Brandon Williams, Caroline Fess and Baytown freshman Owen Buntin.
“Common Grounds is fun, because, as a Baylor student, it’s kind of the iconic Baylor venue,” Taylor Buntin said. “As a student, it’s fun because I’ve been to see John Mark McMillan, Ben Rector and All Sons and Daughters here, so the bands I’ve grown up listening to have played on this stage here, and now I’m doing it. Also, it’s a really cool venue because it’s a good combination of two worlds. The sound setup, it’s on par with real concert venues, … but also it’s like a smaller, intimate setting. It doesn’t feel like you’re at a big concert venue; it feels like you’re at a coffee shop.”
Taylor Buntin said he’s learned how to balance his music and his studies over the past four years at Baylor.
“As much as it can be hard sometimes because we do spend a lot of our weekends playing and stuff, I think when you love something and something’s important to you, you make it happen,” Taylor Buntin said. “I think that’s true for a lot of things. You kind of have to prioritize what’s important to you. But when you love something, you make it work.”
Tallent said her favorite part of performing, especially at Common Grounds, is seeing how people are affected by the music Taylor Buntin writes.
“I think my favorite part is seeing how many people come to listen to what we do and even just like me getting to experience [Taylor Buntin’s] writing and how vulnerable he’s willing to be with his thoughts and his feelings and then seeing people appreciate the vulnerability of his music and just people appreciating that and saying that it helps him or that they relate to it or that it’s moving,” Tallent said.
Tallent said having to say no to gigs to participate in sorority events and study is challenging and learning how to prioritize is difficult, but worth it. She said goals for the future include becoming openers for a larger band and producing another album.
“I think it woud be awesome to get to open for a band that’s way bigger than us,” Tallent said. “Last year we almost had the opportunity to play for King’s Kaleidoscope when they came to Common Grounds. I think something we’re striving for is just to get our music out to more people. We’ve started trying to get people to let us play in other states. If we have friends in other states we’ll try to play a house show there, and we’re also going to try to put out another album in the next year, which is exciting, and it’s a big goal because it’s a lot of work and a lot of money.”
Tallent said the most meaningful part of being a student artist is hearing how it impacts other people.
“I try not to think of it as a band or getting our name out there because the music we do is so based on God and the way that our faith journeys are,” Tallent said. “The most rewarding part is people will text me — last week we put out two new singles — and my friend from [Texas A&M] said ‘Hey, I just wanted you to know I’ve had a rough week and this song is my jam today, and there are better days on the horizon and it’s helping me out.’ So the best part — even though it’s a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of money — hearing the way that it affects people and helps them is the best part of it for sure.”