UNEARTHING THE PROCESS McGow poses for concept photos. “Signing with a label meant getting the full experience. I could feel my dreams getting more and more real, and I was so grateful.”
UNEARTHING THE PROCESS McGow poses for concept photos. “Signing with a label meant getting the full experience. I could feel my dreams getting more and more real, and I was so grateful.”

Dear Society… Greenhills alum releases debut single with label

Devyn McGow ‘23 releases debut single “Dear Society” with DMM Records.

For Devyn McGow ’23, this lifelong dream of becoming a studio recording artist came true with an unexpected interaction.

“It’s actually a crazy story,” McGow said, “I was walking on campus one day and there was this guy performing in front of the Union. He was really good and so after his set, I walked up to him and began a conversation about music. I found out that he was considered for a Grammy in 2023. He asked me what music I do, and I replied that I’m also a songwriter. He asked me to send him something, so I emailed him a demo of ‘Dear Society.’ He emailed me right back writing ‘we need to get you into the studio and record this.’” McGow beamed as she recounted the memory. “It was definitely the right time and right place, but I was prepared for it.”

As for the actual recording of the song, McGow stressed the difference between self-releasing compared to working with a label.

“It was an incredible experience. I worked with Andrew Young and Alan Johnson, who are both incredible people with incredible stories,” said McGow. “The first time I met with Andrew and walked into the studio, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. It was a legit studio.” 

Although this experience came from a spontaneous connection, McGow’s parents always had a hunch that McGow would become a professional songwriter, or at the very least, always love the stage.

“She has always been a musical performer – at two years old she would start to make up songs on the piano,” McGow’s mother, Donna McGow said. “I still have her first song from when she was four, saved on a piece of paper. I think it was about how the trees were green and the sky was blue, and how everyone should love each other.” 

McGow’s father, Patrick McGow, elaborated on how neither of the parents were musical performers.

“That was totally her thing,” said Patrick. “From a very young age, she always had a very natural connection to music and language. At eight, she completed her first show at the local Marquis Theatre in Northville, and from there she did 15 shows with them.”

For “Dear Society” in particular, McGow elaborated on how the songwriting process stood out to her compared to other songs she had written before. The song hints at many different situations, such as monitoring weight, losing family, and mental health.

“The day I wrote the song was very healing. There was just so much I wanted to process and so much I wanted to say,” said McGow. “These weren’t really topics people were talking about in a high school environment, so when I wrote this song at sixteen, I was in a really different place. The lyric ‘I learned how to live when you just want to give up’ is my favorite because I see it as a grounding point – it sends out a message of ‘I got through this, and you can too.’”

SINGING FROM THE HEART McGow records the song in the studio, with professional equipment. Although the song came together quickly, McGow had worries about the material itself. “Releasing it for the world would mean outside reactions, and there were times when I’d get super in my head about it, with it being my first single and all.”

Patrick was aware of the song’s commentary on society, especially the influence that social media has on teenagers today.
“It’s pretty deep, which is how Devyn rolls,” said her father. “Images of people can make anybody feel bad about themselves, especially teenagers growing up. Her song has a powerful message that so many can and have resonated with.”

McGow understands that not only can people resonate with the song’s lyrics, but also her dreams of becoming a singer. For those aspiring students, she had some advice.

“Just say yes to things,” said McGow. “Try things out and do things. Even though I’m not studying music for my major, I take really cool classes that relate to film and the music industry, and I attend campus music events all of the time. The music industry is so difficult to break into, and if it’s something you love, go for it. Even if it starts out as just a few close friends supporting you, you never know the impact you can have unless you try.”

Patrick attributes her successful release to her devotion to her dreams.

“She had the initiative to go and meet these recording people, drive to Indianapolis to record the music, and go from having a good song to signing and releasing something as an artist,” said her father. “That follow through is something that a lot of eighteen year olds may not have.”

Donna also stressed McGow’s drive to pursue music despite being a teenager.

“A lot of people are musical, but she had the initiative to go walk up to someone and begin a conversation on music,” said Donna. “She has managed everything along the way and that’s quite impressive being a college student.”

Despite being a freshman in college, McGow is already working on her next musical single. 

“I’m going to be working with John Mellencamp’s band,” said McGow. “It’s going to be very different from ‘Dear Society’ and definitely more like a self-empowerment situation.”

However, McGow said that one thing will never change about her songwriting.

“I write my music for myself to process, but I release it for everyone to connect with. You have no idea who may connect with your message,” said McGow.


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