artist with many talents.

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


from Harrisonburg to iTunes.

For most students at James Madison University, November 29, 2011 was just another normal Tuesday full of coffee and studying. For Annie Lawrence, it could have been the defining moment of her career.

Annie had her first CD, “Light is Stronger,” released onto iTunes, an accomplishment that many small town artists can only dream about. Although she is still young, it was a long time coming.

Annie Lawrence began her road of musical talents in kindergarten when she first started taking piano lessons, up until fifth grade. She has also mastered the mandolin and acoustic guitar since being in college.

“The first time I played was at my church at home in Roanoke, Church of the Holy Spirit.” Said Annie Lawrence, senior Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication major. “It was really exciting to get up there and have the experience of playing and singing to serve the church.”

The beginning of her junior year of college, Annie started writing her own lyrics and developing her own presence on the stage. She started with small events like leading worship, and having shows at Taylor Down Under and other local venues.

“I realized I am really passionate about it,” said Annie. “I wanted to go to Nashville.”

Getting to Nashville and finding someone to take a chance on you is the usual struggling musical talent story. But Annie got to Nashville with a view phone calls, emails and demos.

It seems pretty simple, but it was a pretty long process. Through friends who are artists in Nashville, Drew and Ellie Holcomb, Annie was given the contact information of producer, Andrew Osenga. “He asked to hear some songs, I sent them, he liked my sound, and we picked a time for me to head to Nashville.”

As simple as it seems, there was a hefty speed bump hindering Annie from hopping on 81 and heading south. There aren’t too many college students that just have $10,000 lying around.

Thankfully for Annie, there was another option: Kick Starter, a website to fund creative projects so that artists can raise money to make albums. Artists have a video introducing them, and they pick a number of days to have the goal reached. But what’s the catch?

“If you don’t raise the money in the amount of days you choose, then you don’t get any of it.” Said Annie. “I had thirty days to raise $7,500.”

Annie’s actual goal was $10,000, but she wanted to be safe with $7,500, and safe she was. All $7,500 was raised in one week, and ten days later, she had the $10,000 she needed to head to Nashville.

“That’s how I was able to do it. I got around $12,000 total and I have used almost every bit of it to make the album. It was a huge blessing.”

As of November 29, 2011, Annie Lawrence’s music is officially on iTunes. After working with a company called CD Baby that distributed her music to all the digital distribution companies, including iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

“It’s kind of weird to search and find my name on iTunes, but it’s fun to share my songs with people.” Said Annie Lawrence, senior Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication major.

Not only can you find Annie’s music on iTunes, but also being a JMU student, she also plays locally. Annie was in the a cappella group, Into Hymn, her sophomore year, but now she is taking the solo lane, and also leading worship at Alethia.

“I am having my CD release show on January 15 at Alethia church at 7,” said Annie. “That’s a big show coming up.”

Annie recently won the JMU sponsored event, Rumble Down Under so she will also be having her own concert on January 25 at Taylor Down Under.

“I don’t know where this will go, but if this album happens and that’s it, I’m happy.” Said Annie. “This is my passion, so I know it will always be a part of my life.”

lad in a battle.

By Tiffany Wheeler

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

This quote perfectly captures the essence of James Orrigo, a student who started a movement called Lad in a Battle, which aims to make the world a more positive place through random acts of kindness, and by making people smile.  James achieves the latter through music.

James has been playing his original songs at JMU for the past three years, whether it be at Open Mic Night, strumming his guitar around the quad on a sunny day, or at the upcoming event tonight Operation Santa Claus.

So how did he choose such a unique name?  Lad in a Battle?  Well, Lad stands for “Life above alcohol and drugs,” while the battle references the battle James is fighting against stereotypes. Check out his website listed above to find out more about his mission.

Here is his biggest hit, Boat Shoes.

If you like what you heard, you can purchase Boat Shoes and his other songs from his album Coming Home on iTunes now!

Proceeds made from Lad in a Battle are donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Making positive change in the world and helping someone’s dreams come true?  Sounds like a win-win to me!

To see this ultra-uplifting stud perform his upbeat and catchy songs, head on over to Wilson tonight for Operation Santa Claus at 7:30.  Many other talented musical groups will also be performing, such as Exit 245 and Big Creek Revival.

It’s only $5, and all proceeds go towards benefitting foster children in the local Harrisonburg area.

See ya there!

Live Holiday Music at JMU

Now that December is here, it’s time to get into the holiday musical spirit. For when the radio just won’t do, JMU is hosting several live concerts that complement the holiday festivities.


The 43rd annual Holidayfest continues tonight as various ensembles from  the JMU School of Music as well as what is described as a “special Harrisonburg celebrity” take the stage in the Forbes Center Concert Hall.

Holidayfest was extended to three performances this year after last year’s tow shows were both sellouts.

The first performance, held on Thursday, was a Jazzfest which featured JMU’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Band in a performance which included a performance of the full Ellington/Strayhorn arrangement of The Nutcracker Suite.

Saturday and Sunday’s performances will feature JMU’s Large Ensembles as well as music theatre performances. Saturday’s show will be at 8PM, while Sunday’s will be a matinee, at 2PM.

The Forbes Center reports healthy ticket sales, but also says that there are still seats available. Tickets are $14.

Winter Choral Celebration

JMU’s Winter Choral Celebration will take place on December 7th in the Forbes Center Concert Hall. This concert will feature the Treble Chamber Choir and University Men’s Chorus, as well as the University Women’s Chorus

Tickets are $8-10 in advance, or $4 with JMU student ID.

-Seth Harrison

money cannot be eaten.

By Sara Cummings

College: Classes, professors, finals, papers, clubs, dorm rooms, research, friends, textbooks, work, library, dining halls, organizations… and free time has to be somewhere in the mix, right? So, what do we do with the little freedom we have as college students (especially at this “I am involved in everything” school called JMU)?

Well, for many people music is their hobby. It may be listening to music that puts life to a joyful tune, or making music could be what really touches their souls. For the band, Money Cannot Be Eaten, it’s the latter.

Money Cannot Be Eaten is a band made up of four JMU students: Jeff Gorman, John Bickle, Jake Cochran, and Tim Borny. All of these fine gentlemen contribute as vocalists, but their individual specialties are:

Jeff –  Guitar and Drums
John –  Organ, Clav
Jake – Drums, Guitar
Tim – Bass

But where does the name, Money Cannot Be Eaten come from? It is actually from a prophecy of the Cree Native American Tribe, which goes a little something like this:

 “Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that
money cannot be eaten.”

These guys have a lot of talent. They started the band last year playing at Open Mic Night and The Little Grill, but this year they have really hit the ground running! They have played for festivals downtown, at Rumble Down Under, the Spaghetti Fest, and Clementine! Here is a little taste:

Money Cannot Be Eaten could be compared to sounding a little like Fleet Foxes or Parc Avenue. It is a relaxing sound that you could get your groove on, or just sit back and relax with a nice glass of wine. These guys definitely show their personalities on stage and you can tell that they have a true passion for music.

I wouldn’t consider myself a music guru , but I have attended three of their shows, and have been pleasantly surprised. They seem like four stand-up guys who are just trying to enjoy the life of a college student. The harmony that they create is a beautiful sound… or as some may say, angelic. Too far? Well, you’ll never know unless you check them out for yourself! Take a gander at their MySpace page!

Julieann, Tiffany and I all went to their concert together. Here is a picture from our fun night! (And yes, that is Money Cannot Be Eaten playing behind us!)

playlist mania.

By Julieann Lutrario

Have you ever had those times after reading pages and pages on end and all you want to do is relax or have a dance party by yourself but, you don’t know what to play or where to find a playlist to fit your mood? After many cravings to throw my school books out the window and dance around until I can’t stand, I have found secret gems of playlists for every sort of occasion.

1. Pandora

Want some oldies but goodies? How about some dubstep to start the party? Or some relaxing tunes to spur some last minute thinking? Pandora is the place to go! You can set up an account for free (you might have to deal with the commercials after every 3-4 songs, but hey it’s worth it). From there you can type in anything that sparks your fancy and Pandora will generate a playlist of songs that relate to that subject. The only downside with Pandora is you can only skip so many songs before you are not allowed to do so anymore.

*Fun fact Mark Zuckerberg created a program similar to Pandora while in high school.

2. 8 Tracks

8 Tracks is similar to Pandora but in my opinion selects songs that relate better to what you want to listen to then Pandora. 8 tracks also has some generic playlists if you cannot think of anything to search after hours of studying. Let them do all the work! 8 Tracks also allows you to only skip a certain amount of songs, but hey your still getting free music!

3. JMU Beats

JMU Beats is a site made by one of our very own dukes- Tyler Larson. This site has many pre-made playlists, from “Girls Night Out” to chill summer playlists with about 40-50 songs on them. This site has no ads and is easy to jump from song to song. Support one of your fellow classmates and check out JMU Beats. It has some great party playlists. Put one of these playlists on and you are sure to be a hit with your friends.

4. Groove Shark

With this program you can pick any songs you want to listen to. You have to make a playlist but they are all of the songs that you have hand selected. Groove Shark also has minimal ads so there are little interruptions in the impromptu party amongst your close friends or that intense thinking.

*Fun fact you can also pick playlists that other users have made! This allows for optimal music playing! YA! 🙂

Hope these sites can bring you some joy, distraction, and fun whether it be on the weekend or in the middle of the week when you need a pick-me-up! ENJOY!

the reason for the season.

By Tiffany Wheeler


Love listening to a cappella groups?  Love helping children in need?  I know I do!  What if there was a way to do both simultaneously? Oh wait, there is!

Tomorrow night, at 7:30 in Grafton-Stovall Theater, is the Invisible Children A Cappella Benefit Concert, where you can support the cause of Invisible Children.  Just by purchasing a ticket for a mere $3!  Raffle tickets will also be sold for a dollar for chances to win gift cards to local businesses.  All money will be donated to the cause.

Invisible Children is a nonprofit organization that was started to end the use of child soldiers that have been abducted and trained to fight in the war in Uganda. To learn more about the cause and find out how you can join the movement click here.

Supporting this cause should be reason enough to go to the concert tomorrow, but if that’s not enough for you, then the talented a cappella groups singing will have you racing to grab a ticket before they’re all gone.

Performances by:

  • Madison Project
  • The Bluestones
  • The Overtones
  • Low Key
  • Note-oriety

So if you’re looking for something to do tomorrow night, or even if you’re slammed with school work you put off until the end of the semester, take a break and head over to Grafton for a night full of musical bliss and awareness of a cause that needs your help!

If you are interested in getting involved with Invisible Children at JMU, take a look at their Facebook page.