Introducing: Bethesda

Beau Brown

Many local musicians have tried to make it big in the music industry; few have succeeded.

But for the new, budding band, Bethesda, this dream is well within reach.

Composed of several talented musicians hailing from Akron and the surrounding Kent area, Bethesda is a band that is “more or less every sort of musical genre out there shoved into one,” according to the band members. Many different instruments, ranging from violins to guitars, make up the group, bringing an eclectic sound to the local venues.

Currently the band has six members. Shanna Delaney, a grad student from Kent State, is the vocalist of the group and is married to Eric Ling, a Kent State alumnus who performs on acoustic and rhythm guitars. Jesse Scaggs, a student from Tri-C, rocks out on the guitar as well, but also shakes things up by introducing his banjo. The rest of the group includes Dan Corby (on bass), Justin Rife (drummer and occasional fire-performer) and Christopher Black (violinist and keyboardist).

The name “Bethesda,” according to Delaney and Ling, stems from the Jewish and Christian religions.
“Bethesda was a pool of healing in Judeo-Christian religion that was designed to heal sick and injured people who traveled to it,” said Delaney. “We liked the imagery that came with this, and we wanted our music to somehow reflect it.”

“In a way, we want to ‘heal’ people with our music and spread hope,” said Ling.

Signed with record company Unleashed Music, Bethesda has played multiple venues throughout Northeast Ohio and surrounding states, either as an opening performer or the main event. They even had the chance to play at Bonnaroo: a music festival that featured popular musicians such as Bon Iver and bands including Of Monsters and Men and The Beach Boys.

Bethesda has climbed through the ranks with the release of two full-length albums and two separate EP’s (short for Extended Play). Now, they are working on a third full-length album titled “The Reunion.” 

Throughout their musical career, Bethesda has based their songs off of personal experiences and designed their music to fit the lyrics, which, in the group’s eyes, has the most meaning and influence.

“Each song that we write is personal to us because it is influenced by things we experience in our daily lives,” said Ling. “All of our members are able to convey their feelings through the words we put in our music.”

“What we want to accomplish is some sort of connection with the people who hear our music,” said Delaney. “As we bring the melodies together, we want the people to come together as well.”

Speaking of melodies, the musical style of Bethesda is one that even the group can’t lay a finger on. With a unique blending of instruments, Bethesda has created a comfortable balance with beautiful sounds and lyrics that would be impossible for anyone to emulate. According to the group, the musical style can be best described as indie-folk-rock.

“We found folk music to be best suited to Shanna’s voice and the instruments that we had,” said Scaggs.

The way that Bethesda originally created their music was basically a jam session that maneuvered itself into a mixture of melodies and harmonies that fit with
the instruments.

“When we first started making music, we would simply start jamming,” said Ling. “After a while, the music kind of worked itself into something presentable and that’s how our first album came along. Now that we’ve matured, though, we are better able to organize our music so that it sounds more intentional.”

Bethesda’s maturity and dedication to their passions has earned them local fame and the opportunity to create a third album, which they have decided to call “The Reunion.” The album encompasses the theme of reuniting and the deep feelings that come with seeing someone, or something, after being apart for years.

“Each song on the album reflects something that occurred in our lives that dealt with some form of reuniting,” said Ling. “One song deals with a message my grandfather wanted me to write, about meeting loved ones in the afterlife. Another deals with Shanna’s brother. Even our album art deals with reuniting.”

The pre-release party for The Reunion will be held at Akron’s Musica on Saturday March 2. Tickets for the venue can be purchased online at, or through the bands website at The show will feature performances by several local artists, including Bethesda as the main act.

To this day, and in the future, Bethesda’s passion for making music grows. The dedication they have toward their career has granted them a chance to fulfill their dreams as they travel from city to city, sharing their music. According to Delaney, they’ve only just begun.
“We’re not stopping making music any time soon,” she said. “We’re growing and we’re excited about it. Right now, all we want is to connect with people and play
our music.”