Dartmouth musician’s debut album reflects South Coast roots
Dartmouth High alum Mary Hamilton is following her dreams in Los Angeles, where she just released her debut album.
The 2017 Dartmouth High grad, who performs under the stage name Virgo Verse, launched the album, titled “Ocean Tell Me,” on August 23.
“I really wanted to put out music for a long time, but I always wanted it to be in the right way,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to have a great first foundation.”
She recorded the album with a band she formed with classmates at the California Institute of the Arts, where she is now studying.
Many of the songs on her album were written right in Dartmouth in Dartmouth High English classes. It’s where Hamilton developed her passion for songwriting.
Growing up, she played guitar in the school’s jazz band, and occasionally sang. She was in chorus and the Dartmouth High Harmonix a cappella group in its debut year. Each year at Dartmouth High, she performed in the June Jam, a battle of the bands-type fundraiser for the school’s Helping Hands program.
“High school was a big turning point for my songwriting, because that’s when I really started to write songs in my sophomore English class,” Hamitlon said.
The titular track of her album, “Ocean Tell Me,” originated out of that English class during a lesson on transcendentalism.
“I love being outside and near the ocean, going on walks to the daffodil fields,” Hamilton said of her inspiration.
Still, music was not in her sights as a career option. When she graduated from Dartmouth High in 2017, she first moved to western Massachusetts to study computer science at UMass Amherst.
When she was unsatisfied with her chosen field of study, she thought to the one constant in her life — music — and took a leap of faith. She moved to Los Angeles to study at the California Institute of the Arts.
“I knew I always wanted to be a small fish in a big pond,” Hamilton said. “I spent my whole life in Dartmouth, so I wanted to try something new. I wasn’t afraid to take a leap.”
With access to musically-minded students and a recording studio, she decided now was the time to put together her first album.
Despite moving across the country, many of her songs are inspired by her love of the South Coast and Dartmouth.
“The Dock,” for example, recounts Hamilton’s memories hanging out with her friends on a dock in Padanaram, evoking imagery including laughter from the nearby Black Bass Grill and the sunset.
“The little local spots like that are what makes Dartmouth so great,” Hamilton said.
As for what’s next, Hamilton hopes to perform locally for friends and family when she returns to Dartmouth for winter break.
To listen to Hamilton’s album, visit song.link/album/i/1476588334.