Penn State Student Releases Album, Donates Proceeds To THON
It’s been 248 days since sophomore Shawn Fox had the chance to grace the stage in front of 12,000 of his peers at THON, but less than a year later he’s found a new way to give back. Fox released his debut album this week, titled “Apricity,” with a majority of the proceeds going to THON.
Although playing in the Bryce Jordan Center may have been the highlight of his music career thus far, it certainly wasn’t the start. Fox became involved in music as a result of an agreement with his parents — at the age of nine he was presented with the decision: have a party for his first Communion or receive his first drum set.
Spoiler alert: he chose the drum set.
Drums were the first instrument Fox mastered, but he didn’t stop there. He now also plays piano, acoustic guitar, and occasionally ukulele. Fox grew as a musician in middle school, eventually graduating to church basements and small concert halls until one day he found himself playing in a packed HUB as part of the THON’s Got Talent contest.
“I was involved in the Penn State songwriters club as well as a member of a THON communications committee, so I heard about the contest through those. I decided to try out.”
The first round of applicants performed in front of a small committee of judges, and those who were approved were granted the opportunity to perform at 100 Days Til THON in the HUB.
“That was definitely my favorite performance so far. The HUB was packed and I played a mashup of songs. The energy in there was great, I love feeding off that crowd interaction.”
His impressive performance afforded him the chance to play in Penn State’s biggest venue on arguably its biggest stage: the Bryce Jordan Center during THON.
“I remember trying to find a quiet room to tune my acoustic guitar before going on. The crowd was so loud, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest and my palms were sweaty. But once I got on the stage that all went away.”
During his performance he experienced microphone troubles that delayed him a couple minutes. But for him it was just another reminder that not everything goes as planned, and it’s what you make of a situation that matters.
“I just kept reminding myself that I wasn’t there to impress anyone. I was just a source of entertainment for everyone supporting such a great cause. It makes you remember what you’re there for, what you’re supporting, and how it’s bigger than yourself.”
Although Fox’s album was released this year, he has been working on it since his junior year of high school. He would write and record original songs and improve them over time, using experiences from his own life as inspiration.
“The biggest challenge when recording this album has been finding time between everything I’m involved in. I’ve had to make an effort to block out time to put everything together. I recorded a lot during the summer and the weekends.”
Fox recorded a majority of his music from his bedroom, using a midi-keyboard to manipulate sounds along with the program Logic Pro X. He used the keyboard to create the beach sounds in one of his favorite songs on the album, “Seasons.”
“‘Seasons’ is one of my favorites because of the contrast between the music and the lyrics. The song sounds very upbeat but it actually tells a story of losing someone and how it can be hard reflecting on that loss when you have such good memories together.”
The album consists of eight songs, with other notable tracks being “The Birds” and “Better Me.” Just like most of his songs, and as the title implies, “Better Me” was inspired by personal experience.
“’Better Me’ was a song I wrote this past summer about the person I’m currently dating. It’s about how you want to be with someone who makes you a better person, and what it’s like when you find that. It’s definitely the biggest sounding track on the album.”
At the end of the day Fox isn’t focused on his individual success, but instead the reaction from his supporters. Over the past year he has received an enormous amount of positive feedback, which has only made him more excited to release new music.
“I just want to make something that resonates with my listeners. I want the music to be relatable. This album is about growing up, moving away from home, losing relationships, and gaining new ones. It’s something I hope people of all ages will be able to connect with.”
Similar to his performance at THON, Fox wanted to take the attention off of himself and instead focus it on a great cause. His decision to donate 75 percent of the proceeds from his album to THON was an easy one. He felt it was the perfect way to give back to the THON community for all it has done.
What started as an agreement with his parents has turned into something more than Fox could have ever imagined. At the time of this article, Fox’s album has reached No. 139 on the iTunes pop chart and continues to climb.
“I’m immensely grateful for everyone that has supported me the past couple years. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Check out Fox’s album, “Apricity,” which is available now on iTunes.