As winter settles on Charleston, creative minds at the College of Charleston are anything but cold.

In this installment of the “Under the Moss” series, we meet two creative students who connected through their shared passion for music and recorded an album together.

Senior Khallil Stewart and junior Jamie Gray began collaborating last spring after reading each other’s stories in The College Today’s “Under the Moss” series.

“I asked Jamie to sing a few songs for a project I was doing and immediately realized she had incredible talent,” says Stewart.

Jamie Gray and Khallil Stewart (Photos by Heather Moran)

Gray, an arts management major with a concentration in music, says she was more than happy to work with Stewart to learn more about recording music.

This past fall, they recorded a song titled “Therapy,” which deals with sadness and the struggle with depression that often goes unspoken. These emotions hit home for Stewart as he continues to struggle with being unable to play soccer, which is what he loves most.

“Being physically unable to play almost put me into a downward spiral that I don’t think I could have come out from,” says Stewart. “But music has given me an outlet to express what I feel. It has given me hope.”

That one song soon became seven songs – enough to fill an entire album. Gray and Stewart plan to release their first album, “Winter Solstice,” on Dec. 5, 2018.

The album begins with “Cold,” a serenading intro that creates a meditative atmosphere, preparing the listener for what’s to come. As the songs progress, Gray’s voice continues to mesmerize and evoke heavy emotions. Her soulful vocal style juxtaposed with Stewart’s melancholy delivery makes this album unique and raw. It peaks with “Troubled Dear,” a slow and thoughtful expression of hope in a cold world. As the 22-minute EP comes to an end, “Reality” sets in, providing a fitting title for the last song.

“This album is an excavation of the self,” says Stewart. “It describes the journey through pain, confusion, and darkness.”

The pair chose the title “Winter Solstice” because it marks the shortest day of the year, the day with the least amount of light.

“It’s a metaphor for sure,” says Stewart, a business administration major. “The shortest day of the year occurs in the winter. It’s dark, cold, and it evokes these emotions. But the thing about the winter solstice is, it’s just one day. If you can make it through, the warmth and light will return.”

Gray and Stewart are undoubtedly going to continue pursuing this light through their music. Gray has had an incredible fall semester. She has performed in five house shows and made appearances in local venues, such as Burns Alley Tavern and The Royal American. She has been featured in 9 to 5 magazine and is considering creating an album of her own.

“I can’t ignore the signs anymore,” says Grays, whose songs can be found on SoundCloud. “I can’t keep waiting for the ‘right time’ because it’s all happening now.”

Stewart is constantly in the studio. Currently, he is finishing up the production of “Winter Solstice” and working with Zach Jones (artist name: Zodiac) on another project with singer Brittny Newman.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of singles for myself, but I’m trying to create a culture here in Charleston,” says Stewart. “This place has so much talent and so much potential.”

Lauren Vega is a senior from Huntington, West Virginia, studying arts management and international studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston.