Were one to see Russell Wagoner walking along the quad, they might think him a normal JMU student. Russell is a junior double major in cultural anthropology and modern foreign language, along with a minor in theatre. He works as a Group Fitness Instructor at UREC and runs a recreational dance group on the weekends. As if this wasn’t already impressive, Russell is also an up-and-coming R&B/Pop artist with a long list of accomplishments.
After almost a year of having a Facebook fan page, Russell has 658 likes. He has 153 followers on Twitter (@RussellWagoner), 522 views on one of his newest songs on Youtube, and over 200 plays on Soundcloud. He has worked with grammy-award-winning producers and performed at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
As you might have guessed, Russell is an academic but also an accomplished musician. He’s all over the place.
“I’m addicted to spreading myself too thin! I love being busy and thrive off of the opportunity to embrace so many different passions,” said Russell Wagoner.
In the past 10 years Russell has been trained in classical and jazz piano and has been a part of several choral groups. Upon winning the CAPPIE award for ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Musical,’ Russell gave a solo performance at the Kennedy Center for thousands.
In 2009 Russell released his first EP, “Resurgence” that was recorded in Nashville, TN at Atlantis Studios under the Grammy award-winning technician Voytek Kasnochek.
Russell was able to network his way into Atlantis Studios. He said he was “lucky to have his rough material heard by the right ears.”
During the two years prior to releasing “Resurgence,” Russell was going through a rough time. The release of Resurgence allowed him to “return to the top of the game, and return to producing the greatness he was used to.”
“Resurgence” experienced great success as an R&B/Pop crossover EP. It has been purchased many times on Itunes and the songs constitute many of Russell’s Youtube hits.
A year later, Russell released his second EP, “Resurgence Part II”. This album was recorded in New York City at Fluid Studios. This EP was a way for Russell to have some fun.
Upon the success of “Resurgence (pt. I), Russell needed to take a step away from brooding songs like ‘September.’
“Writing emotional music got old, this album allowed me to get in touch with the personality I forgot I had.” said Russell.
Currently Russell is single-handedly writing, producing and recording his third album. This album is expected to drop in the spring, and is allowing Russell to create a new sound.
“This new sound is more authentic to my true musicianship because I’ve taken the reigns on the creative process. It has a great blend of R&B, Pop, and Folk. The combination is something entirely novel,” said Russell.
On top of an intensive school schedule, a job, and his music career, Russell finds it hard to balance it all, but enjoys every minute of it. He lives by the quote “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Best friend, Amanda Saccone states “Russell is one of the hardest workers I know. He gets stressed but he’s trying to get through school and start a career, what do you expect?”
A typical day in the life of Russell Wagoner consists of class all day until around 6. Sometimes he goes straight to work, or goes home to catch a breath. On a late night he starts working on music around 9:30 and does so for about 2 hours, then starts his homework.
Russell promotes himself very heavily over the Internet using numerous social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Soundcloud, etc. The Internet does not bind him to any time constrictions.
As a child, Russell took to dancing and singing. In 6th grade he started writing songs for fun. As he became more comfortable with this talent he began singing his creations for family and friends who said, “Russell’s music was great from day one! It’s been amazing to watch it mature into the sound he has today.”
“As a youngster, my family told me I was never quiet,” said Russell. “I was always making some sort of noise.”
His mother, Daisie, said he was the life of the party at such a young age. People were always drawn to his charisma and his passion for singing.
Russell’s family supports him thoroughly through all of his endeavors. Russell stated that his parents are there to give advice and listen when he is having problems. Not to mention, they help foot the bill for studio time and equipment.
While recording, Russell’s mom, Daisie puts her son first. Daisie states that while she was in New York she stayed up until 4 or 5 in the morning to offer support.
“Russell is always talking about ways to make his music better and ways to appeal to a wider range of people.” said roommate Stephanie Trifiro, “He really wants this passion to take him far in life.”
In ten years Russell hopes to have his own record company, Resurgence Records, which will guide young musicians toward achieving their goals. He wants to branch out and have a publishing company as well as a dance studio.
“Bottom line, I will be on top of the game in whatever I do. Watch out!”
Russell recently released a Christmas song!
By: Julieann Lutrario