One of the luxuries of being in college, JMU in particular, is that you have a chance to earn your degree and pursue your passion at the same. Sometimes your passion and degree line up and sometimes they couldn’t be farther apart from one another. In cases where your passion is something different than what you are studying, JMU provides a plethora of opportunities so you can have the best of both worlds.
I’ve come across nursing majors with a passion for breakdancing, student athletes who have an affinity for the performing arts, and in a very special case from Technology and Design’s very own David Raposo’s, a computer science and music double major. One day, some of us will have to choose what we wish to devote more time to but for this short chapter in our lives, college gives us a chance to do both. I was recently given that chance by University Program Board through their music series “Spotlight Sounds.”
I’m a WRTC major set to graduate in May of 2017. Coincidentally, this is the last of many major and minor changes. I had my stint with quantitative finance, theater, communication, and even philosophy. However, throughout all of that, my passion for music has stayed strong. I was raised in a family of musicians and brought up playing drums for my church. I currently play drums for the JMU Contemporary Gospel Choir, but about a year ago, I discovered a new passion for hip hop. I started out as an avid listener, but then I figured, “I could probably do this.”
So, I found a producer and fellow student named Brian McDonald, I began to write and record my own songs, I contacted other musicians and we formed a band called Soulful Stylings. Of course that’s the Spark Notes version, but all of it did seem to come together pretty quickly. To get our toes wet, we played a couple small gigs and open mics. We got better with each performance and wanted to continue playing for different crowds.
Then I remembered that UPB had a running music series called Spotlight Sounds. This event brings local music as well as up-and-coming touring acts to campus. I had been to a couple Spotlight Sounds and recalled that notable bands like The Lumineers had played at this event. I contacted the Spotlight Sounds Director Grace Albert from her email listed on the UPB website and inquired about the process for being chosen. She explained that she would need a few videos of live performances and a committee would democratically vote on our act. Fortunately in my case, UPB had scheduled their feature artist for January to be hip hop artist Mike Floss and Soulful Stylings seemed to be a perfect fit for an opening act.
Once Soulful Stylings was chosen, we had to sign a contract to ensure that we would perform. It was one of the many things that made me feel like a professional artist. From seeing our names on UPB’s flyers to running sound check before the show, we all felt special. However, nothing felt more special than performing our own music to packed crowd in TDU.
Our performance at Spotlight Sounds was the beginning of many more performances to come. Most importantly, it gave me a venue to pursue my passion. A feeling that I would recommend anyone to strive for.