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Pictured is John Rushlander, SAEM major and Pioneer Records' fall 2015 winner. | Photo by Victoria A. Mikula

Meet John Kono Rushlander

Major: Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management
Hometown and current residence: Pittsburgh, Pa.
High school: Riverside High School
Military service: Army Infantry
Hobbies/interests: Playing music and fixing my old 1987 Dodge Ram

Student John Kono Rushlander is the second musician to be selected for Point Park University's record label, Pioneer Records, which is housed at Red Caiman Studios in Pittsburgh. According to SAEM Associate Professor Ed Traversari, Rushlander was chosen among numerous submissions by a team of judges including music industry professionals and Point Park faculty and staff.

Why did you decide to try out to be Pioneer Records' next artist?

I submitted a rough demo for Pioneer Records and then backed out! I am almost a decade older than most students on campus so I felt disconnected at first. I was insecure and thought it didn't make sense for me to try out.

However, after speaking to some people including Professor Ed Traversari and SAEM major Tyler McLaughlin, I realized maybe Pioneer Records could be what would help me connect with other people at the school. So far it's been exactly that and I am happy I went through with it. It is really cool to be able to connect with the student body and share my craft with my peers.

What are you most excited about this year with Pioneer Records?

I am excited about several things. The recording process is new to me and really awesome. Also, I'm looking forward to performing in local venues and hopefully meeting new friends and developing more music industry connections.

What inspired your blues-rooted music style?

I listen to a very wide variety of musical genres, some of which are reflected in my music. Ultimately, I have energy inside of me that wants out, and I just do my best to process it. Sometimes I feel like I take no part in the creative process at all, it just happens. A good friend once said to me, "You don't pick the kind of music you play, it picks you." At the time, I just thought it sounded cool but it has always been stuck in the back of my mind. Now that I am a bit further down my own trail, I'm beginning to see what he was saying.

Why did you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree at Point Park?

After getting released from active duty, I wanted to return to Pittsburgh and attend school. Point Park seemed like a cool place to go since it was in the heart of the city and very arts oriented. However, I do miss the South.

What are your goals for your music career?

My goals are to continue progressing as a guitar player and hopefully reach a larger audience with my craft. When I lived in New Orleans, I had folks tell me that I inspired them to play guitar themselves. It was a great feeling to be told that. Picking up the guitar was the best decision I have ever made.

Photo by Victoria A. Mikula, junior mass communication major


More About: veterans, sports, arts and entertainment management, student competition, Riverside High School, Pioneer Records