USC student prepares for Visions and Voices debut

USC is home to a number of talented musicians, all striving to share their talents with the world. On Thursday Aug. 23rd, USC’s own singer/songwriter Segun Oluwadele will do just that at the USC Visions and Voices kickoff in Bovard Auditorium.

Child prodigy · Segun began writing music when he was 12 years old. Since then, he has captured the attention of artists like Erykah Badu. – Photo courtesy of Visions and Voices

Segun, a Texas native and junior in the Thornton School of Music’s pop music program, finds inspiration for his work from his own experiences and hopes to emphasize an element of compassion and soul that encourages the audience to learn something about themselves.

“I listen to [and] observe people and musicians for entertainment and content,” Segun said. “Then I channel that content into creativity.”

Segun came to Los Angeles with more than just dreams of higher education. For Segun, a self-taught guitarist and pianist, music is a passion, an outlet of personal expression that he hopes to share with the world.

With a humble beginning as a soloist in his elementary school’s variety show, Segun was hooked on music as early as the fourth grade.

“It was then [that] I realized how much I loved singing and being on stage,” Segun said. “From then on, music became a personal therapeutic hobby.”

By the time he was 12 years old, Segun had fully prepared to develop his passion for music and began writing his own songs. When he arrived at USC, he was ready to delve even deeper into his craft and discover his own distinctive sound and style.

“Being the artist you are inside is more important that trying to create an ‘artistic image,’” Segun said. “Being an individual is the only way to find out who you actually are.”

Chris Sampson, Segun’s songwriting professor and the associate dean of the Thornton School of Music, helped Segun harness a more distinct sound and meaning through the songs he creates.

“As a songwriter, Segun’s growth has come in his ability to make the lyrics and music work together to create a total emotional experience for the listener,” Sampson said.

Sampson also attests to the range of emotion in Segun’s performances.

“No matter the character of the song, he invests himself deeply into the lyrics,” Sampson said. “He has a stage presence that can fill any room.”

But after arriving at USC, Segun didn’t just channel all of his energies into his own music. The aspiring singer also joined USC’s SoCal VoCals a cappella group as a venture to grow in all aspects of performance, rising to the leadership role of music director for 2012.

“It has really broadened my perspective as a performer,” Segun said. “A cappella is such a different animal than what I normally do with my own music, and it [has] given me a few more tricks that I can use in my live shows now.”

In addition to the support he has gained at USC, Segun’s work has caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning artist Erykah Badu.

“It is always a pleasure to be a part of cultivating a true blossoming artist,” said Badu about sharing her artistic and industry experience with the growing singer.

Likewise, Segun had only positive things to say about his reputable mentor.

“Erykah has been a near and dear friend to our family,” Segun said. “When she saw that I was talented, she helped me book gigs and gave me advice about the industry.”

Badu has helped him reach a level of self-realization and commitment many artists only dream of. But the true impression Badu left upon Segun was unspoken.

“Her believing in me was the best advice in itself,” Segun said. “It showed how much I had inside and how I should never let anyone stray me from my destiny.”

Segun was overwhelmed with happiness when asked to perform in the SPARK! showcase and wants to share his gratitude with the audience for the support he has received at USC.

“I want people to listen closely to the messages written in between the lyrics,” Segun said.

With his onstage charisma and careful attention to detail in the crafting of his songs, Segun manages to consistently deliver emotional performances. In fact, it has been rumored that his performances have even made grown men cry — or at least his official bio claims.

As for Segun’s USC mentor, Sampson is proud of his student’s accomplishments and believes this showcase will provide an important platform for Segun to connect with a new audience.

“Segun has limitless potential, and I have a great deal of confidence that he will be a successful artist in the very near future,” Sampson said.

What’s clear is this: Segun’s upcoming performance in the SPARK! Kickoff is only a precursor to what’s in store for this young, up-and-coming artist.