Music has always been an important part of the life of Jake Nguyen ’25. He started singing when he was very young and added the guitar around seven years old. Flash forward 10 years—now he is gearing up to open for the band Royals at LVC’s annual ValleyFest concert after being named the VALE Artist of the Year.
VALE is LVC’s student-run record label. Students from all majors can get hands-on experience with all aspects of the music industry, such as recruiting artists, recording in the studio, and hosting a live performance. VALE chooses a student to be its Artist of the Year each year. This artist gets to perform at showcases around campus and the community and sign and record with VALE.
“I’m super excited to just get my music on a platform where people can listen to it,” said Nguyen, a music education major. “I feel like I have so much to share and so many experiences to write about. I hope this opportunity will allow others to feel that same joy I got from those experiences.”
Even before making his way to LVC via the advice of teachers and alumni family friends, Nguyen gained valuable experience in the performing arts industry. His alma mater, Palmyra Area High School, was chosen to help adapt the musical “Amelie” for high schools. Nguyen was selected to play the main love interest and work directly with the writers to modify the play. His experience with songwriting made him an excellent fit for this project.
When asked about the inspiration behind his writing, the singer-songwriter credited his life experiences. He pulls from his life and those of the people closest to him.
“I love writing about the people and places around me,” Nguyen said. “For example, my one song, ‘Song About Home,’ I wrote about my experiences in my hometown, and my dad’s experiences moving from his hometown in Vietnam to America.”
The singer names his tune “Catawissa,” a song about a small town up north, his favorite.
“Through my music, I want to help listeners appreciate the people and small things around them,” Nguyen explained. “Because life is pretty great, and I think it’s easy to forget that sometimes.”
As a busy first-year student, the artist knows how true this can be. Luckily, he is enjoying the classes and experiences LVC has brought him so far.
Since coming to college, one of Nguyen’s favorite classes was Professor Jonathan Walker-VanKuren’s theater class. Nguyen found the class fun and appreciated the experience of performing an end-of-semester recital of the songs they had rehearsed.
Along with his class performance, the musician thoroughly enjoyed his VALE at the Vette showcase at the Corvette Grill near campus. This was an opportunity for Nguyen to show off his skills singing and playing guitar and piano. He performed original works from his EP and covered songs from other artists. Students and community members alike came out to enjoy the music.
“I’m so happy with how the year turned out overall,” Nguyen proclaimed. There have been so many great lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had, so I can’t wait for you all to hear it in my music!”
Students will have another chance to see the VALE Artist of the Year perform on Saturday, April 30, during the ValleyFest concert.
— Kayleigh Johnson, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant