Not to get all Mr. Holland’s Opus today, but one of the enormous privileges that comes from working in higher education for many years (in my case, about a decade and a half) is watching the exemplary human beings you worked with as they were just tottering into adulthood go on to terrific achievements. I met Ariel Bui back when I earned a living helping college kids run a fully licensed radio station serving a major media market. Deeply dedicated to the station from the jump, Ariel did seemingly just about every student job there before she earned her paper and was free, and she was similarly on air in every way conceivable, including as a music performer on occasion.
Ariel has been busy with a myriad of projects in her post-college life, most of them admirably focused on cultivating community. She’s clearly kept up with that guitar, too. This week, Ariel released “Sixteen,” a track from her forthcoming album, Real & Fantasy. It’s poignant, powerful, heartrending, and elegant, addressing long-lasting trauma in the lyrics and putting the healing pain to intricately crafted music that somehow aches and soars at the same time. As someone who’s known Ariel for a long time, I’m flooded with pride at her forthrightness and full-hearted creativity. As a listener, I’m just glad to have this wondrous new song to listen to over and over again.
In the lyrics, Ariel insists, “I have something to say.” She sure does.
Real & Fantasy is scheduled for release in October and can be purchased at her Bandcamp page.