Penn State graduate student Cecil Blutcher will take the side stage April 29 at Movin’ On.
To nab his spot at Penn State’s annual free music festival for students — featuring Walk The Moon, Nelly, X Ambassadors and more this year — Blutcher had to win Battle of the Bands at the HUB-Robeson Center back on April 1.
“That was fun,” Blutcher said. “I had my sights set on it for a while. I meant to enter it last year, but I didn’t know that I could. The title, in some ways is misleading, at least to me. But, I’ve been thinking about it the whole year. So, I just happened to naturally develop a lot in that year, and when I came through it was more like another performance.”
While Blutcher is the main attraction at his performances, his musical partner, “Hughes,” brings a solid presence to his music both onstage and off.
“He’s a producer/engineer type,” Blutcher said. “He makes most of my music. I met him about a year ago at a Sounds mini-music festival ... We started making songs together, and after a while I realize that he knows how to actually DJ. So then it’s like, why not have you be part of my live thing, too? If the creator of the sound is present in the room, it just adds that vibe. He also likes engineering, too, so he does my vocals during the live performance. I have auto-tune and reverb and effects and all that kind of stuff.”
A fan of several genres, Blutcher uses his vast musical knowledge to stylize his own sound.
“I characterize (my sound) as ‘Urban Soul,’ ” he said. “It’s definitely got that feel of urban music style like hip-hop and R&B. A lot of my music definitely sonically derives from that lineage of the jazz to the blues, to the gospel to the hip-hop, to the soul, and I link that all together.”
The performance at Movin’ On won’t just be business as usual for Blutcher.
“I like to give things away,” he said. “I have this really cool art piece that someone made for me. Since I like to encourage the audience to get hype, I think I’m going to give it away. I think I’m going to give it to the most ‘live’ person. I have that, I’ll bring a guitarist, and some dancers — it will be fun.”
Blutcher has decided to use his debut mixtape, “#HIGHerEd,” as his senior thesis in Penn State’s School of Theatre. He believes his live art form is just as theatrical as traditional plays or musicals.
“I think that hip-hop and rap is theatrical in and of itself. And, the fact that I’m writing it means I’m creating my narrative through the music,” he said. “The stage show that goes with it is essentially a piece of theater. It’s an event of me performing songs, playing the role of rapper for the audience.”
The young rapper feels that with his music he is firmly in control of his own destiny.
“A lot of times, actors feel at the whim of whatever because you have to wait to work,” Blutcher said. “Before you can actually do your job, someone has to give you that opportunity. But, with this, I’ve created something where I can create my own opportunities and I’m not waiting for that. I think it actually helped my acting a lot more. It makes me feel like there’s not so much pressure.”
Blutcher said he’s ready and willing to put the work in to succeed with his craft.
“I want to go as far as I can go with it,” he said. “It’s not a hobby. I work way too hard, and I want to keep moving in the direction of pursuing it as a career. So, I’m going to use this to perform more and get the word out about the project that I’m doing and just keep building and growing like I’ve been doing. I think it will compliment my acting as well, too.”
Blutcher will perform on the side stage at Movin’ On April 29, where he promises a special performance.
“You will leave feeling something; I can guarantee you that,” he said. “Whether you like me or not, you will not watch me for 30 minutes and not feel something. Unfortunately, I go to things and not feel anything, and I don’t like that. I don’t know what the feeling will be, but you will feel something from what we do.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Cecil Blutcher’s performance at Movin’ On
- When: 3:30 p.m. April 29
- Where: Blue Band Field, University Park
- Info: www.movinon.org; www.CecilBlutcherCreates.com