Dr. Monica Vilhauer, an associate professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College, prefers to sing her way through life.
Vilhauer enjoys playing guitar and singing in the folk duo, Erin and Monica, in her free time. Her music inspiration comes from her father who taught her how to play the guitar when she was 15.
Vilhauer and her music partner, Erin Hunter, perform at local bars and restaurants in Salem and Roanoke. Monica grew up singing all different genres of music.
RC News Blog: When did you first realize that you loved to sing, and when did you start to play the guitar?
Monica Vilhauer: I have loved to sing since I was a little girl, around when I was 5 years old. I started playing guitar at age 15, taught by my father. He plays by ear, and he taught me to play by ear. It was a great side skill to learn as a teenager, and a good therapeutic outlet for me through my academic life.
RC News Blog: Tell us about Erin Hunter. How did you both start singing together?
Monica Vilhauer: Erin Hunter is my music partner, and she plays violin and sings. We’ve been playing together for five years, and we met about seven years ago. She lives in my neighborhood, and we met through common friends. Jessie Griffin [director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Roanoke College] and Erin were playing music in a trio together, and we met mutually through him. We started to play all the songs that we loved growing up since we are the same age, and we like the same music.
RC News Blog: What types of music do you sing?
Monica Vilhauer: We always focus on folk music. That is one of the things we have in common. We do all kinds of rock songs but in our style. We make other genres that we like into folky versions. We both have a broad interest in lots of different kinds of music, but folk music is where we really connect.
RC News Blog: Where do you sing?
Monica Vilhauer: We’ve played at a number of different bars and restaurants in Roanoke. We’ve played a number of times at the Village Grill [in Roanoke]. We also play at the Grandin Village community park at the farmers market. We’ve also played at a number of special events that occurred at restaurants in our neighborhood. We also play at corporate events and weddings.
RC News Blog: In what way does your work at Roanoke College tie into your music?
Monica Vilhauer: Here my work is in philosophy and gender studies. I would say that the songs that I’m most attracted to are pretty philosophical and gender focused too in their lyrics. I think that there is quite an overlap between the kinds of things I study and the kinds of lyrics that really interest me. It’s a different life with academic life. It is so cerebral in the head, and musical life is all heart. I’m so glad to have that to offset all the intellectual stuff.
-By Shelby Sacco ’14