James Ryu '18

In honor of April being International Guitar Month, meet Stockton's very own guitarist, sophomore accounting major, originally from South Korea, James Ryu!

How long have you been playing the guitar?

I have been playing the guitar since I was a sophomore in high school. So I have been playing for about 4 years, give or take 3-4 months.

What made you start playing the guitar?

I started playing the guitar because I kind of had to and it is funny because a worship leader at my church that I used to attend had to move away suddenly, so he just gave me his old guitar and said, “You shall lead the worship from now on.” Mind you, I did not know a single chord on the guitar back then.

What type of music do you enjoy playing the most?

I used to love playing British Pop or acoustic-based music. And I believe they helped me a lot to adapt naturally into playing Christian music. I play most of Christian music - whether or not they are acoustic-based, in acoustic form because I love the acoustic sound of songs. They, in my opinion, bring out the talent of the guitarist/vocalist and make the music more authentic and “tasty”, if that makes any sense.

What type of music do you listen to?

I got a lot of my musical background from listening to artists such as Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Hillsong United, and Chris Tomlin. So I guess a lot of my guitar skills come from listening to acoustic based songs and my ability to lead worship comes from listening to Christian artists (Besides God, of course).

What's the biggest challenge of playing the guitar?

The biggest challenge, strangely enough, does not come from playing the guitar itself. For me, the biggest challenge is playing the guitar and singing at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good at it, but multi-tasking was never my forte!

Who is your musical inspiration?

I love Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Hillsong Young and Free! However, all of them, I believe, had a pretty equal amount of influence.

Do you play in any groups?

I lead worship at my church with my band, we are called “F.L.Y.” I forget what it stands for though… this is bad. All I know is that we worship God and we try our best to glorify his name through music and mission works!

How do you use your musical gifts for others?

I try to make music that creates healing in people’s lives, whether it would be through good lyrics or melody. Also, I try to encourage people through my music to pass on the positivity to others as well.

Who do you wish to inspire with your music?

I aim to inspire all kinds of people, regardless of age, and I believe my acoustic and natural music can reach all sorts of people!