State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Recap: Penn State Music Awards 2015


Yesterday, Open Mic Penn State held its 2015 Penn State Music Awards in Heritage Hall.  The night, designed to highlight the year’s most active and deserving student artists, featured musical performances of varying genres, improv dancing, spoken word pieces, and, of course, trophy distributions to the new generation of winners (listed below.)

Each one of the performers (also listed below) had something special to showcase.  There’s no denying that we have some truly talented artists here at Penn State, many of which unfortunately go unnoticed by the vast majority.  However, I will say that, in my mind, there were a few artists who truly resonated and showcased a unique style that’s all their own:

Keegan Tawa

Photo: Jonny Rabbit Photography

This electro-house musician is by no means a stranger to the spotlight, but for those of you who are only familiar with the name and not the music, I highly encourage you to attend one of his frequent Chome/house show performances. Keegan Tawa truly has an ear and brain for music.  Pushing the limits of a genre is almost second nature to him.  Tonight’s performance is just one example of this ability, as he creatively incorporated jazz saxophone and featured spoken word monologues into the mixes of his original electronic tracks.

Penn State Fanaa
Photo: Penn State Fanaa Facebook Page

Admittedly, it took me until the second song to realize it, but Penn State Fanaa introduces an entirely new dynamic to the organized mess of a cappella groups found on campus.  They describe themselves as an ensemble of South Asian singers who employ members’ diverse backgrounds to bring together a “fusion of cultures,” and I have to say that they achieve this mission rather nicely.  There was one girl in particular who blew me away with her beautiful, haunting vocal trills – a singing technique that characterizes a lot of Indian music.

David Gaines
Photo: David Gaines Soundcloud

Ohh myy David Gaines! You may remember seeing him perform at THON’s Got Talent last Friday night, but you may not remember what exactly he said in his spoken word performance.  Believe me when I declare that Gaines is probably one of the most articulate students we have here at Penn State. He is able to poetically piece together real, raw societal commentaries and set them to a rhythm.  As he’s performing, he makes you think, reflect, and feel.  I truly hope he gains more traction because he has a gift that deserves to be shared more widely.


And without further adieu, your 2015 winners of the Penn State Music Awards are:
Best Singer: Olivia Price & Shawn Fox
Best DJ: Keegan Tawa
Best Producer: Keegan Tawa
Best Songwriter: Julie Bouchard & Louie Petrone
Best Performer: Olivia Price & Daniel Wells
Best Dance Group: R.A.M. Squad
Best Poet: Jerrie Johnson & David Gaines
Best Rapper: Louie Petrone
Best Mixtape: Louie Petrone
Best Band: Mute Cities
Best Acoustic Performance: Julie Bouchard
Best A cappella Group: The Pennharmonics
Artist of the Year: Louie Petrone

Complete List of Performers:
Keegan Tawa (electronic)
Penn State Fanaa (a cappella)
Daniel Wells (r&b/jazz)
David Gaines (spoken word)
R.A.M. Squad (dance)
Andros Kalos
Ashadeep (spoken word/rap)
Julie Bouchard (acoustic pop)
Cecil Blutcher (rap)
Louie Petrone (rap)
**Moosh & Twist (hip-hop/rap)**


Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, nominees, and performers!  Each one of you is an integral part of Penn State’s developing music scene.