Monett teacher aims to release music
By Murray Bishoff
Amy Sampson likes a challenge.
The Monett High School and Crowder College English teacher had success last year entering contests with her songwriting and photography skills. She plans to continue that in hopes of continued success in 2014.
Last February, Sampson was the co-winner of Missouri Southern State University's contest to write lyrics to MSSU's fight song. She shared the honors with Kathy DeMint.
"Now I get to go to any MSSU sporting event free for the rest of my life," Sampson said.
She also had three photographs published in The Quill, Crowder College's literary magazine, all taken in Glacier National Park in Montana. Two of her photos won silver and one won gold. The first-place shot was taken by her brother, Shawn Sampson, and "edited" by Amy in the manner similar to what renowned photography Ansel Adams did -- manipulating contrasts and intensities to make an especially vivid image.
"It turned out amazing," Sampson said. "I had it put on a canvas for him for Christmas."
Sampson also entered the first photo contest offered by Missouri Life magazine, taking second place in the "Beauty in Missouri" category. Her photo captured Bethel Cemetery at night in a 52-second exposure -- showing the chapel, a few gravestones and the star-lit sky. Sampson was so pleased with the results that she has retaken the photo since with better results.
"I won some passes to an exhibit at Union Station in Kansas City, a gift certificate to a bed and breakfast in Louisiana, Mo., and a subscription to the magazine," Sampson said. "I already have a photo picked out to enter next year."
Sampson generally uses a 15 megapixel Canon T1i Rebel camera on a tripod. She prefers landscapes as they are "less nerve-wracking than people."
The same trip that produced Sampson's photos at Glacier National Park also provided her with a story that she entered with a photo in a contest offered by Marriott TownePlace Suites, based on the theme, "My Travel Turning Point."
"It was a time when I'd lost a job, I was feeling bummer out and I took a trip to Oregon, stopping at the park in Montana," Sampson said."There I felt the presence and the peace of God, who reminded me I will be fine. I had to condense that to 100 words or less."
Sampson's entry made it to the top 30 of the 550 entries. A panel of judges selected hers as one of the top five. She received $1,000 and $1,000 in Marriott housing.
"I'm going to use it this summer with my parents and siblings," Sampson said.
This year, Sampson plans to independently release a compact disc that includes 10 of her original songs, with both a slow and a fast version of one song plus a version of "In the Sweet By and By." Having her own recording has been a longstanding dream for Sampson. She has frequently sung at Mocha Jo's in Monett and at her church a couple times a month.
Sampson played both acoustic and electric guitar on the folk alternative selections. She received extra accompaniment on the recording by Monett High School counselor Princess Fox, an accomplished drummer, and former student Deborah Breon, who wrote her own fiddle accompaniment.
Sampson plans to have copies of the CD available directly from her and possibly
sell it on iTunes.
"I'm going to keep trying to enter contests," Sampson said. "It's fun to win. The next contests I'm going to enter are through Budget Travel, Crowder's Quill contest, and with my insurance company. I'd get money off my policy if I win. It's fun to have a little hobby on the side."