Local musician thinks outside the box

Local musician Jon Swift experiments in crowdsourced songwriting.
Local musician Jon Swift experiments in crowdsourced songwriting. Photo provided

Local musician Jon Michael Swift will bring a unique show, “The Question Box: An Experiment in Crowd Sourced Songwriting,” to Webster’s Bookstore Cafe on Dec. 4.

“The Question Box” is a passion project for Swift that combines elements of songwriting and interviewing.

“It’s part of a bunch of other projects that I do,” he said. “The main concept of this project is that I interview people, and I write songs about them. That’s the heart of it.”

Swift’s selection criteria for “The Question Box” was simple: First come, first served.

“For this first round, I picked the people who responded first on Facebook,” he said. “I had a bunch of different approaches, and I changed my approach from person to person. It started with people sharing their thoughts and me crafting something in response to that.”

Swift is a jack of all trades when it comes to music. He plays and teaches several different instruments.

“I focus mainly on singing and guitar, but I have a lot of string instruments,” he said. “I really like Arabic and Indian instruments, and I’ve been using those a lot recently.”

While Swift has always been a fan of music, his journey to become a musician took several years and some prodding from middle school choir directors.

“I think (it was) probably when my older sister started taking violin,” Swift said. “When I was in third grade they asked if we wanted to play instruments so I played that because she did. I guess it grew more in middle school. I could sing on pitch, which apparently was something they needed in the choirs. So, I got really good in high school and decided I liked it. Then, I went to college to study music therapy and then ended up with a degree in music theory. I kind of ended up in it almost by accident.”

Swift hopes that “The Question Box” helps people see a different approach to music.

“I’m so excited about how this different approach to music is going to open up doors for how people see it an interact with it,” he said. “Crowdsourcing changes how people can interact with a product. If people want to support something and discover something brand new, this is going to be right up their alley.”


  • What: Jon Michael Swift: “The Question Box”
  • When: 8 p.m. Dec. 4
  • Where: Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, 133 E. Beaver Ave., State College
  • Info: www.webstersbooksand cafe.com