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The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Ode to Samia Finnerty - Anna Nelson


This piece is published as a collaboration between Fools Magazine and SCOPE Productions: Amplify.

I started listening to Samia when she had two singles on Spotify, some time in high school. I fell in love instantly. Her music captures a vulnerability and a difficulty I’ve never been able to put to words, which I envy deeply.

Samia was always in my ear, and as she released more music this statement only grew in its truth. I encountered some really tough things in my first semester of college, which sent me grasping for anything solid, or consistent, or comforting. Samia was always there and seemed to know what was left inside my chest cavity when its primary inhabitant was away. While I was reeling after encountering sexual violence as a brand-new adult, she cradled my fragile little heart. Listening to her music became selfcare.

She released her EP called Ode to Artifice that year. I purchased the vinyl when she opened for Hippo Campus at Blue Moose. It’s a blank black record in a blank white sleeve, except for where I asked her to sign it. In the top right corner, in large, capital letters, it says her name. Beside that, it reads, “Anna, thank you!” I had never considered that she would return the gratitude I felt for her, and I treasure that record and the memory that came with it.

The song for which the EP was named features one of my favorite lines, and the line I include in the print I made for Samia. In a Genius Lyric interview, she explains, “We spent a whole day trying to figure out a last piece of imagery to culminate the story and thoroughly represent the chaotic nature of my everyday self. We landed on the idea of the banshee inside of me, ghastly white, towering over myself and screaming at the top of its lungs so that the artifice self can take over and guide us back into the script.”

She illustrates the relationship between her own chaos and regularity, especially in screen grabs which I’ve taken from her music video to use as my reference images. At her high school prom, both versions of herself are confronted with their opposite, and it’s the viewer’s job to ascertain which is the artifice. In this I saw the confusing co-existence between the part of me that was struggling and the part of me that was still really excited about doing the things I loved without being hindered by fear. Samia sings about a wide range of topics and emotions, from the loss of a loved one to disordered eating to relationships.

I had the privilege of working with SCOPE to produce a performance by Samia on February 19th of this year, which was a beautiful event. We partnered with UCS and PSNM, University Counseling Services and Project Silence No More respectively. Samia delivered not only a gorgeous performance, but vital emphasis on the importance of mental health awareness and resources. Because she has been such an immense part of my own healing, this was a perfect way to wrap up my college career. In a way, it feels like I’ve come full circle. And the tidy little ribbon which ties it all together is Samia, who has been here the whole way.

(Samia graphic made by Anna Nelson)

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