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Evan Duffy: Compassion & Composition

Recently, the JMU community was struck with repeated tragedy as we lost some of our fellow Dukes. Amongst the grief and heartache, our community came together to support one another in our time of need. As everyone coped in his or her own ways, a fellow student emerged as a star when his music became a remedy for our sorrows. Evan Duffy produced his cover of “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry with his own twist that bonded all of us together once again. His incorporation of our own JMU fight song turned this radio hit into a personalized tribute to our fallen.

Evan Duffy, the senior Virginia Beach native, is a piano performance and music composition double major. When he’s not writing music for video games or short films or accompanying a lot of JMU’s musical productions, you can find the 22-year-old running, at the beach or enjoying micro-brews and craft beers. Sticking to the piano, Evan admits singing is not his forte. So let’s see what Evan had to say when HC JMU sat down with him…
HCJMU: What made you choose JMU?

Evan: I chose JMU because I had a lot of friends going there after school and had heard great things about the music program. I was able to come up as a senior and take a couple lessons with a piano professor and then made the decision to attend. The new performing arts center was a huge draw as well - the place is incredible!
HCJMU: What inspired you to make your cover of “If I Die Young” and how did you decide to incorporate the fight song? 

Evan: I was inspired to make the arrangement of "If I Die Young" the night a fellow JMU student was killed in a bus accident. I heard about the incident and (after all the other student/faculty deaths this semester) just started playing the song, as it was sort of cathartic amidst everything going on. I was just improvising on the song and figured out the JMU fight song (if slightly modified) would fit in pretty nicely and would give it a much different feel.

After I recorded it and put it up on Facebook, friends and other Dukes just kind of took it and ran with it - I was so glad to see that my own form of "music therapy" was able to help fellow students and those close to the victims. 
HCJMU: What do you think of how JMU pulled together amidst all this tragedy?

Evan: Being in my fourth year at JMU I shouldn't have been surprised at how everyone came together after all the tragedy this semester (as everyone here is always looking for ways to help one another), but it was amazing to see people extending their sympathies to complete strangers. JMU is such a strong community of people and it was amazing to see the sense of camaraderie between everyone. I don't think you see that sort of thing at other schools - definitely something that makes JMU unique.

Evan says he is “really thankful for everyone - friends, family, etc. and things like this really put a lot of things into perspective,” reminding us that, “we all need to slow down and enjoy what we have because things can change so quickly.” As Evan, HCJMU, and the rest of us Dukes would agree, JMU truly is a special place and never before has it been clearer that JMU is all together one.
Check out Evan’s song here!
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