Congratulations to Joshua McGonagle Althoff ’19 who has been awarded awarded the 2023 Louis Pelzer Memorial A...
Major in Education
What first got you into music?
My dad writes songs and he loves music, too. When I was about 6 or 7, he had me write my first song. It was about finding a ghost in your room. But it was just my brother in a ghost costume, which is extra stupid because I don’t have a brother anyway. That was my education on songs, and then I just really liked it and kept on trying different things out throughout the years. I didn't get into music until I was 12 or 13. I hated music beforehand, but once I started listening to music on Pandora, that’s when I started going hardcore into writing my own songs.
Can you talk about your debut album? How did you come up with the name Fairytale Beginnings?
My debut album is called Fairytale Beginnings because I tend to write my songs when I'm in an imaginative place in my brain. I think a lot of songs in mainstream media tend to repeat the same thing, like, about love. It just kind of takes an emotion and talks about it. So, something that's really cool that I try to do with a lot of songs on this album, is to tell stories or talk about different people that I know in my life or different things that I've experienced in my own life.
Beginnings is because fairy tale endings are so stupid in my opinion. It's like, all the fairy tales are so unsatisfying when they end. But the beginnings have so much potential, anything could happen. I like joke books about what happened after the end of fairy tales and how Cinderella hated Prince Charming. I don't think it's accurate, but it's just like people who think they're funny, and I agree.
Is there someone you would want to collaborate with? Why?
There's a bunch of people that I’d want to collaborate with. One person I want to collaborate with is Benjamin Farrer, associate professor of environmental studies. I've never taken a class with him, but he leads the open mics at The Beanhive and he plays songs, such weird, funny songs. There was one time he was leading an open mic before I knew he was a professor. A friend and I just went and made up a love song about Ben. It was so bad and so awkward that I want to make up for it by collaborating with him. Someone famous would be Ben Rector. He writes super pretty songs and I want to write stuff like him.
Are there any classes that created an impact on your writing style that was portrayed in your lyrics?
Sherwood Kiraly, visiting instructor in English and theatre and writer-in-residence, has got to be one of my favorite professors. He’s really good at pinpointing whether the people in my writing felt real or whether they were forced. Since I do a ton of writing about different stories of other people and making them feel real, that helps me a lot.
My mom also taught a writing class which was so important. What she did was just let us write whatever we wanted and then we all gave each other feedback. I've not experienced that anywhere else, in terms of just complete freedom to do anything. That's where I started trying to be funny in writing and it worked; people liked it for some reason. That had an impact on my writing, too.
What instrument(s) do you play?
I play the guitar. I’m a big fan of the kazoo. Last year, during the holidays, my friends gifted me a banjo and I’m learning how to play it. I also play the piano and harmonica. I’m not talented at harmonica but I do play it a lot. I took violin lessons last term. I'm awful at the violin, but I do play it. I also took music theory with Joan Campbell Huguet, assistant professor of music, and electronic music with Pierce Gradone, assistant professor of music.
On campus, Adam is involved with various organizations including theatre, the New Plays Workshop, Improv Club, and Soulfege. He is a peer career leader in the Bastian Family Center for Career Success and an orientation leader. In addition to that, he also has a radio show on WVKC called Tickle My Beezwax.