Jeremih visits Columbia to recruit talent


Kaitlin Hetterscheidt

R&B artist Jeremih (center) visited Columbia Nov. 12 to speak with students and hold auditions for his upcoming band tour at the Conaway Center in the 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Building. 

By Assistant Campus Editor

Renowned R&B artist Jeremih Felton, known as Jeremih, visited Columbia Nov. 12 to recruit potential band members for his upcoming tour and speak with students about his time in the music industry.

Felton previously attended the college but left during his junior year in 2009 after his first single, “Birthday Sex,” landed him his first No. 1 hit and made national headlines. More than 30 Columbia student musicians came out to audition for his band during an event at the Conaway Center in the 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Building.

“To be back here today is important to me because it’s students here that I know are super talented,” Felton said. “I knew I didn’t have to go elsewhere to look for something I knew I was looking for.”

Felton said Columbia is a great place to network and that he wishes he had taken better advantage of the networking opportunities at Columbia before his career took off with the release of his first single.

“This is the land of opportunity,” Felton said. “I feel very connected to the students because I never knew who I was sitting next to in my classes. People didn’t really know they were sitting next to me five years ago, and here I am. There is definitely a connection still there, and to be back here and see the hunger in their eyes is dope.”

Felton said there seemed to be no better place in his hometown of Chicago to find the young talent and energy he wanted, which is why he was comfortable with Columbia being the first audition stop in the city.

“I want to give more now,” Felton said. “To prepare for my tour, this is the first step, and that is really just putting together a young, energetic band that will be able to complement me on stage. This is a school full of heavily talented people. I feel like I wasn’t about to capitalize on that my junior year, and I wanted to come back and give back because I know it’s here.”

Despite his success, Felton insisted his perseverance during his first five years in the industry can be credited to his time at Columbia, his Chicago roots and his upbringing as a youth. 

“Chicago has definitely prepared me to just be equipped and be able to block off any distraction—I’m in tunnel vision,” Felton said. “I’m from a cutthroat city in a cutthroat industry. Chicago raised me, and that is how I’m coming.” 

Shenise Brown, a freshman interdisciplinary major, said she attended the event to see what she and others have the potential to do as a result of being at Columbia and a part of the school’s creative groups.

“I feel like you need to learn from somebody who has been in your space, in your shoes,” Brown said. “You can never miss out on an opportunity to hear somebody’s story and how they made it.”

Brown said she sometimes undermines the value of the potential connections with her classmates from various fields, but Felton’s words reminded her that these opportunities are here for the taking.

“You have so many people from so many different fields who can help you,” Brown said. “They may not be in your field or have knowledge about it, but there are other things that you need from everybody else. So when he said you don’t know who you’re sitting next to, I knew I needed to hear that.”

Tyler Balentine, a junior theatre major, said his interest in the event stemmed from his curiosity for music management and that he wanted a chance to hear what Felton had to say about his experiences the industry.

“This is a better way to give back,” Balentine said. “[The opportunity to see] someone who went to school and classes here just like us and now you hear them on the radio—-for him to come back—is a great thing.”

Balentine said he appreciated hearing Felton speak because it gave him insight into the type of artist he was as well as his beliefs and morals, which, as a manager, is important to know about an artist.

“What really impressed me is when he said he was going to stick to the name Jeremih, despite the fact that many people mispronounce his name,” Balentine said. “It’s important for artists to stick to themselves and be true to who you are and what you do.”