Written by Kristen Davis. Media by Madison Moran.
We all have passions in life. Some love sports, some love nature, and some love music. Meet Jonathan Raffa. I had the pleasure of interviewing him this past week and getting to know his story.
A quick biography about Jon is impossible. There’s a ton of interesting facts about this kid that I don’t feel people really know. Jon goes by his stage name, |RAFFA|. He is a singer, hip-hop/pop artist/beatboxer. Raffa moved from Detroit, Michigan to attend school here at Greenville College. His musical career began in 8th grade, although he didn’t take it seriously until his junior year of high school. He used to write piano ballads, sappy love songs, or any type of song that could tell a story. Once he felt more confident in his music abilities, he began to cover hip-hop/rap songs like “Take Me There” by Trip Lee and Jimmy Needham. He then began to try writing his own rap music, and has officially released his new single, “Anchor”– “I really like it. I hope everyone else does too!” Raffa says proudly. Beatboxing became one of his hobbies when he was in an a capella group in high school– as the vocal percussionist, he began to practice different sounds and steadily progressed in his abilities. Raffa stated, “I’m still very immature compared to some professional beatboxers, but I love doing it! It’s different and fun. Using a loop station tends to impress people, which is always a good thing. So yeah…that’s me as far as my music goes”.
1) Inspiration? Favorite musical artist?
I have TONS of inspirations. My all time favorite artist is James Taylor. I was raised on his music and could listen to him forever! When I started to get into a capella music groups like Pentatonix, VoicePlay, and The Filharmonic, they became a huge influence on my musical life. I spent a few years listening to a capella music, doing melodic dictations of their arrangements and practicing each voice part which really extended my vocal range, making loop pedal performances extra fun.
Since I just started rapping, I have a new set of influences in that genre. Eminem (who actually has a house really close to me back home, in Detroit!) and Watsky were real big influences on me, especially since they were white rappers. B.Reith really set up my style. If you listen to him you will find a lot of my stylistic musicality in his music. I’m still learning about the culture of the whole Hip-Hop area of music since I’m so new to it, and Ben Barber has been my teacher. It’s super interesting and has a lot of historic value that I had no idea it had. Honestly, and I don’t mean to sound cliche or cheesy, but Ben Barber has been one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to performance. He has taught me a ton about performance, hip-hop, production, and has also taught me how hard work pays off and that you should never stop doing what you love. It’s been amazing to come along side him and learn from someone closely like that. I love that guy AND his music!
2) If you could play an instrument, or if you already do play one, what would that be?
I started playing piano at age 6. I took lessons for about 10 years. I love piano. It’s beautiful and can be used in a ton of different genres. If I could learn another…I would pick either guitar or cello. Guitar is useful in a lot of genres and I’m jealous of Drew Miller’s (the guitar player in my band) skills and wish I could play like him. Cello is just beautiful!
3) What do you aspire to be in life?
I want to perform and share my music with everyone who is willing to listen! I feel called to the stage and the studio and I love to do it, so I’m not going to stop! It’s so much fun. I really like reaching people with my music and influencing an audience with my words and energy. That’s what I want to do…so I guess in one sentence…I want to be an artist!
4) Words of advice to other students?
There is SO MUCH I could say here, but to keep it brief, I would say that you need to find what you love and do it no matter what. I think the rapper Watsky said it best–“You might think you’re defeated. But if you love what you’re doing, you’ve already succeeded”. Just do what you love. God doesn’t give us passions for no reason. Use them and He will bless you through it.
If you’re interested in exploring the music stylings of Jonathan Raffa, be sure to stop by his Youtube channel to show your support: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAIXWLQkWyOUx9209gWuPA