If you’re a Columbia local, the name Audra Sergel may ring a bell. She grew up in Maryville, a small town in the northwest corner of the state but, like many, came to Columbia to attend Mizzou, where she studied classical music. She began her career as a public school music teacher but has since opened her own private studio where she offers lessons in piano, vocals, guitar, and ukulele. Even when she’s not giving lessons, she is always playing music. Though trained as a classical musician, she has branched into jazz and, more recently, electronic. You may have heard her perform a jazz set at Murry’s, or some piano pieces at Cherry Street Wine Cellar, where she was the in-house pianist for three years, or direct the orchestra in the pit of a local playhouse. When it comes to Columbia’s music scene, she’s done it all. And though she covers a wide range of genres, she feels her Missouri roots often underscore the tone of her music. “I think it definitely has played into the influence of some of my original stuff,” she said. “There’s a country bend on a couple of tunes on my first album and a lot of that comes from that gospel, kind of finger-picking style stuff that I heard a lot growing up.”
One thing she loves about the local music scene is its diversity of sound. She has a long list of mid-Missouri-based musicians she loves, and of them she said, “So many of them could absolutely be national recording artists, they just aren’t. They work down at Ragtag. You know, we’re all kind of these normal people and then here we are doing these really creative things. That’s part of what I love about Columbia.”
Though she is a pillar of the local music scene, her upcoming EP (available April 15th), At the Water, was written by the sea, when Sergel spent a few introspective weeks in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It will be her first foray into electronic music and to give an idea of what it will sound like, she said, “I was writing music I wanted to swim to.”
While you wait for its release, get acquainted with Sergel’s past releases, all of which are available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all major streaming platforms. She suggests starting with her EP, Sanctuary, which shows off her skills as an acoustic musician.