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Performing Arts & the Liberal Arts

Bria Robinson’s dad quickly knew music would be an important aspect of his young daughter’s life.

“My dad says I was singing sounds before I spoke my first word,” Robinson says. “I would just be there in the crib belting out these musical sounds.”

She remembers at age seven seeing her father star as the lion in a local production of Andrew Cleese and the Lion, and by sixth grade she also was participating in community theater. By 10th grade, Robinson transferred from a public school to the Chattanooga High School for Creative Arts but remained active in community theater. And now, as a first-year student, Robinson has plans to attend graduate school at Columbia University to study in its prestigious musical theater program, and then her aspirations turn toward Broadway and touring her own musical.

“I know I will have to start small as part of the ensemble or company, but I even love that,” she says. “I have always been a theatrical, dramatic and very animated person.

“The stage feels like a second home to me. Whenever I feel down or if I feel that no one understands me, expressing myself in a song or in a monologue changes that.”

At Earlham, Robinson is mixing music and acting classes as part of her liberal arts education. She’s also a defender on Earlham’s volleyball team, a member of both Dance Alloy and the Earthquakers, a dance troupe that performs during football and basketball halftime shows, and she is a member of Brimleys, a popular campus a cappella singing group.

“You have to know how to manage your time,” Robinson says. “I learned that during the hours and hours of endless rehearsals.”

Robinson hopes her Earlham education will help her polish the traits and characteristics she feels are necessary to excel in theater and music

“You have to be a well-rounded person,” she begins. “You have to be open-minded to the entire experience, and you have to be flexible, driven and motivated.”

Friends and family are not surprised to see Robinson follow her dreams. Growing up she had multiple theater roles and sang in both children’s and adult choirs. She sang solos during school and church productions.

“I don’t get nervous,” she explains. “Right before I go out I get this urgency, this rush of adrenaline to go out and perform. I am confident that I have worked hard in rehearsals, and now it’s time for me to put on a show. There’s nothing better.”

Robinson experiences a similar rush of energy on the volleyball court when diving for an opponent’s spike.

“Once I am out there on the court, that same type of energy builds, and I love when both teams keep running plays and running plays,” she says.

In addition to a sizeable academic scholarship, opportunities to play volleyball and study abroad helped Robinson choose to attend Earlham.

“I think what really brought me to Earlham were the study-abroad opportunities,” she says. “One day I hope to tour my own show around the world.”


Bria Robinson

Bria Robinson 2017

Hometown: Chattanooga, Tenn.

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