UM Wesley Coffeehouse unites students through music

University of Miami’s United Wesley campus ministry held a karaoke night on their patio on Thursday, Feb. 23. Photo credit: Sam Peene

Underneath fairy lights in an open backyard filled with folding chairs, you’ll hear acoustic music and laughter every Thursday night at UM. Here, students experience tender moments together in a supportive safe space, a necessity that balances the daily chaos of college life.

This gathering is the Wesley Coffeehouse, a weekly event where musicians from all walks of life build community. Here, art and the people you share it with come first.

The coffeehouse takes place at United Wesley, a campus ministry located across the street from Mahoney Residential College. It specializes in outreach events like coffeehouse to connect its members with the Wesley space..

“Even though it is a Christian building, it’s for anyone and everyone to feel loved at home and accepted,”Pastor Jess Williams said.

The event itself typically consists of a headliner for the first hour and an open mic afterwards. However, on Feb. 23, the organization collaborated with Grammy U to host a karaoke night.

“I wanted to do something having complete creative control and see if students would fill up two hours,” Kamryn Charles, a junior music engineering and technology major and the event’s coordinator, said.

While planning the entire event alone was a big undertaking, it ended up being a success, with the entire time filled with performances from UM students.

“Coffeehouse is an offering that we, Wesley, provide because we believe that the entire person matters,” Williams said. “We want students to come and feel like they can own that space, that they can decompress from the intensities, the anxieties of school, of life, of the things around them and just come to share in music, share in time together.”

Wesley’s service to the community allows students to relate with each other in a space free of judgment and anxiety.

“It’s really cool to see other people who aren’t in Frost as well who just love music and maybe aren’t doing it as their career, but it’s still a hobby and passion of theirs and they can still come and play at the open mics,” Sam Kopec, a sophomore music industry major, said.

The magic of coffeehouse lies in the intimacy it fosters, allowing artists to interact one-on-one and develop connections.

“I’ve always loved the connection between the performer and the audience,” Robert Grande, a junior music engineering student, said. “I’ve always thought that that connection was something special and that’s something I always strive to create whenever I’m performing.”

A coffeehouse regular, Grande performs so often that most regular attendees are on a first name basis with him.

Big performances and concerts often lack this deep connection, but it does exist among the individuals who regularly attend these events and desire to be part of the community.

“From the first day I came here, I felt like I was welcomed. I think it brings people together who normally wouldn’t find each other,” Grande said.

Christian Rosa, a senior marine affairs major, feels that the coffeehouse helps people leave their comfort zone.

“It’s just a valuable skill that you can build on top of public speaking. It’s just a really nice way to showcase talent,” Rosa said.

Where else do students studying marine biology, business, communication and everything in between truly get along? Students don’t have to worry about wearing labels or suppressing parts of their identities at the Wesley Coffeehouse.

“It really brings the community together. It’s not really as separated as an artist on a big stage and the audience in the crowd. It’s more of a collective experience, so we’re all doing it together,” Kopec said.

As a former musician, spaces like these encourage me to honor a part of myself I may have lost touch with. Experiences like these truly give UM students purpose, whether in school or in life.