By Taylor Roar

Megan Ukoh, an alumna of this university, strummed her guitar as she sang mellow songs for a two-hour coffee house at the Maryland Food Collective Nov. 15.

Ukoh graduated in 2009 with a degree in landscape architecture, but music has always been her passion, she said. While she studied to make her parents proud, she always wished she could work on being a recording artist. For her, the modest coffeehouse was a big step.

Though the crowd was small, less than ten people sat and watched at any given time, Ukoh said the performance was a special moment for her. It was the first time she’d had an audience come just to watch her.

The location made the day even more special. The Co-op was a staple of Ukoh’s when she attended this university, so it only seemed fitting to return for the chance to share her love of music.

“I used to eat here almost every other day,” said Ukoh.

Ukoh sang a wide range of artists, including Lianne La Havas, Corrine Bailey Ray and Kings of Leon. With each song, her soft, unassuming voice almost disappeared among the conversations in the room and the clicks of people typing on their keyboards.

A senior ecological technology and design major, Mimi Tasker, sat for the entire performance, snapping in approval after each song. “The soothing music was very nice to have as background music to work,” she said. Performances in the future should be just as “soothing” as this one, she added.

Ukoh has performed alone in the past, but it’s been less formal, she said. She has performed at the Foggy Bottom Metro station and other busy areas, but in that kind of setting, “people never really sit and listen.”

More regularly, Ukoh performs with her band, Apt 204, where she sings and plays the guitar. The Hyattsville-based group describes themselves as a “jam band” on social media, but Ukoh said they don’t have a particular style.

“It’s kind of rock, soul and jazz,” said Ukoh. “We just try to make positive music, something different.”

Now, Ukoh said she’s looking for more coffeehouses and small gigs to keep her momentum going. In the meantime, she said she has been writing songs for her band.

Apt 204 is recording an album that’s set to be released next year. She said her hope is that the band will get the chance to make it to bigger stages one day.

Lauren Karaffa, a Co-op worker-owner, said there will be similar events at the Co-op in the future, though none are currently posted in their events calendar. Artists who perform are either recommended by staff, or request to perform.

Featured Photo Credit: Singer Paul Klein rests his foot on the mic stand while performing at the 9:30 Club. (Casey Tomchek/Freelance Photographer)

Taylor Roar is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at troar@terpmail.umd.edu.

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