Student searches for his pursuit of happiness through music

For Jesse Garland, school comes first — but music is a close second.

Garland, a 19-year-old freshman majoring in pre-business at Youngstown State University, makes plans and sticks to them.

“Becoming a well-rounded businessman is my main priority in my life at this point, and I look forward to being able to use that to my advantage in my years to come with music,” Garland said.

A normal schedule for Garland doesn’t just consist of getting up, coming to campus and going to class. With the passing of his father, Garland has also taken on many responsibilities around the household.

At night, Garland sings and his friend plays the cajon drum, a box-shaped percussion instrument usually made of wood, for a group of their friends.

“That is a time I value. I love to be around people that I love,” Garland said.

Garland had a knack for writing lyrics at a young age, beginning at 15. However, it wasn’t until two years later that he truly considered himself an artist when he began recording and writing melodies after the passing of his father.

“What made me want to pursue being an artist would most definitely be the years of my life where I was dealing with my father being diagnosed, fighting and losing his life to cancer. Writing helped me get through those times,” Garland said.

Garland said his music represents overcoming.

“I use crucial learning experiences that I’ve come across on my journey through life,” he said.

He added that he wants his listeners to feel the pain and struggle that he felt, while also knowing that tomorrow is a new day.

“The time I spend with my music and lyrics just happens accordingly,” Garland said. “It comes to me out of thin air, which could literally be at any point in the day. From there, I just ride that vibe or idea and structure it into something.”

When Garland feels that his lyrics are ready, he hits the studio, which usually requires eight to 10 hours a week and often takes place in the late hours of the night.

“I’ve spent countless late nights there, but I don’t mind because I know when everyone else is sleeping, I am working hard and perfecting myself,” Garland said.

Garland does his recording at Nexus Sound Studio in Warren. The studio has worked with multiple national hip-hop recording artists such as Chevy Woods, Gorilla Zoe and Ray Cash.

While maintaining a hip-hop backbone, Garland said his style is “different.”

“I try to stray away from making music that sounds like something out there already. It’s easy for me to be original when I am truly writing and creating from my personal emotions and experiences,” he said.

Garland recently finished his first project, titled “ItsAllJ.”

The hip-hop CD is a 22-track compilation of everything the young artist has produced in the past year.

Garland has gained fans and friends at YSU and looks forward to meeting even more.

“I have a lot of people believing in me, which definitely makes me feel like I have the wind to my back,” Garland said. “I really only have the manpower to promote small amounts at a time, but this emphasizes the relationship that I have with each of my fans, who I consider my friends, and important people in my life.”

Jared Wert, a childhood friend from Garland’s elementary school years, said Garland has come a long way.

“Jesse is very dedicated to his music. There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t work on his music in some way, shape or form,” Wert said.

Wert remembers the days when Garland was using the stock microphone on his computer to record his music.

“It really didn’t do him much justice, but everyone has to start somewhere,” Wert said.

Another friend, Danny Skiba, also recalls how far Garland has come.

“The point from where Jesse began writing to where he is now is unbelievable,” Skiba said. “His music is truly unique and has a meaning behind it. He puts 100 percent into it and is very passionate about what he does.” 

Looking ahead, Garland said there could be a festival or two on his schedule for the summer.

“I’m sure something big will pop up along the way. I have a couple potentially big gigs down in Columbus, which is usually where I’m at if I’m not in the Valley,” Garland said.

He also has a couple trips to Los Angeles planned for video shoots and other music events and is working on an upcoming album titled “Versatility.”

Garland said “the feeling of making today count” motivates him, and doing what it takes to make his father proud is always on his mind.

“He showed me the true definition of strength and believing, further than any dictionary has the capabilities of defining,” Garland said.