Making an album while working a full-time job is a challenging feat. Curtis Peoples, an archivist for Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, recorded an album in the midst of working because of the passion he has for writing and performing music.
Peoples said he recorded the album “Nivedita” with his band, The Curtis Peoples Collective, after stepping away from being a full-time musician to focus on his schooling.
After being a full-time musician with side jobs, Peoples said he received his degree in sound technology from South Plains College.
While Peoples was working on his sound technology degree, Mark Murray, one of Peoples’ instructors at South Plains College and now an audio engineer for The Richards Group in Dallas, said he saw potential in him.
“(Peoples) struck me as being one of the more savvy and more dedicated students that I had at the time,” Murray said.
After Peoples’ time at South Plains College, he and Murray collaborated on some music as a part of the band, The Point, Murray said.
Co-writing and performing with Peoples was one of the most prolific situations Murray said he has ever been in.
“(Peoples) was just somebody who could just walk into a room, and we could throw ideas off of each other,” Murray said. “We created a lot of music with that band.”
After Murray accepted work in Dallas, The Point dissolved, Murray said.
Peoples said he then received a degree in history from Texas Tech.
Through his history degree, Peoples found himself working for Tech at The Vietnam Center and Archive. This archive gave him the drive to become an archivist, Peoples said.
Peoples eventually developed The Crossroads of Music Archive. This archive focuses on the history of West Texas music, he said.
Still actively recording and performing music, Peoples said, he recorded his album “Nivedita” in the Crossroads Recording Studio on Tech’s campus.
“The story of the album is about a woman named Margaret Noble. It’s sort of a musical biography about this woman,” Peoples said. “She leaves England in 1898 on a steamship and goes to India. When she gets there, she starts the first girls school in India. She also helped sick people and became very important to the people in India.”
In April 2015, Peoples approached the Flatlands Dance Theater to see if it would choreograph dances that went with the songs in the album, Rachel Ure, dancer and choreographer at the Flatlands Dance Theater, said. Dancers performed the choreographed material from the album with Peoples performing the majority of the songs live.
Peoples recited the story behind the album to the choreographers, Ure said. They then determined which songs inspired them.
“We split up the music among four choreographers and learned more about the story ourselves,” Ure said. “(We were) inspired by listening to his tracks and created pieces that matched the story.”
Peoples submitted “Cicada,” one of the more popular songs on the album, to the Lubbock Music Now compilation earlier this year, Peoples said.
According to a previous article in The Daily Toreador, Lubbock Music Now is a compilation album put on by Civic Lubbock. Local artists submit songs and a committee from the Texas Grammy Board determines which songs make the album.
Peoples said he wrote “Cicada”, an instrumental track, about 10 years ago.
“It was one of those nothing-else-to-do moments where I was sitting on the couch and watching some TV show in the middle of the afternoon,” Peoples said. “I went and grabbed my guitar. I was thinking about my friend Doug Smith, the famous piano player from here, who passed away earlier this year. I was thinking about his music and how open and spacious it is. About 15 minutes later, I had this instrumental song.”
Originally just with guitar and piano, Peoples added different instruments to the song for the album. He said he added Tambouras and violins to the instrumental song.
Peoples said “Cicada” is about transformation. Even though it has different Indian instruments on the track, it is a song about West Texas.
“The whole album is this fusion of Indian music, Irish music and West Texas music,” Peoples said. “That’s what West Texas music is. Musicians I know listen to everything and incorporate different styles into their music. It helps to bring out these new sounds. I think that is why people are successful from here because they are willing to listen to new ideas, new things and incorporate it into their art.”
Ure said the additions of these instruments add different layers and colors to his music. This makes the music more fun to dance to.
“(Peoples’) music is so rich and organic,” Ure said. “It is all full of passion, and he is so passionate about the stories he is trying to tell through his music.”
Peoples said his passion for music never died, even through having a full-time job.
“I never gave up on playing music or writing music,” Peoples said. “It all works together. It’s this synergy of education and creativity.”