Billboard No. 1 or Bust
“Billboard No. 1” — that’s what composer, producer, drummer and pianist Jonathan Crawford ’10 sees on his horizon, and he says his Durham Academy education is helping him get there. Crawford left a management consultant job in Washington, D.C., to move to California, where he released his debut EP and performed in his first-ever live show at Solvana Music Festival.
Q — What have you been up to since graduating from DA?
A — After graduating from Durham Academy in 2010, I went to University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). I also minored in Music and received a certificate in Hispanic Studies. I had always known that I wanted to do something in music, but I didn’t know how.
Upon graduation from UPenn in 2014, I moved to Washington, D.C., to work in government contracting as a management consultant for two years at Booz Allen Hamilton, where I spent as much time producing music in my bedroom as I did writing budgets for clients. I left Booz Allen in 2016, with some time left on my apartment lease. During that time, I began bartending at a nightclub in Georgetown while studying, practicing and composing music full time in my home studio.
When my lease ended, my brother, Christopher, was graduating from Princeton. The two of us, along with our close childhood friend, Will, took the opportunity to travel Western Europe for almost two months. This was an unforgettable experience, throughout which my brother and I began talking seriously about plans to move in together in San Francisco, where Christopher would be starting his new job at Google as a software engineer.
Once back in the USA, Christopher moved to San Francisco to begin working, and I moved back in with my parents for six months to continue producing, practicing, composing, bartending and saving. In April of 2017, I bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco with the intention to rent a house suitable for a professional home studio. After three weeks of staying in Airbnbs in Oakland, I found our house, returned home to pack my music gear into my car, and drove cross-country from Durham to San Francisco, where I currently live and work.
Q — What are you doing now?
A — Since moving to San Francisco early this summer, I have produced and released my debut record, an experimental piece called Depths, built my own online infrastructure, and booked my first live performance as Jonathan Crawford at Solvana Music Festival in Mendocino, California. In the meantime, I bartend at several venues in the city, which has proven to be a fun and flexible job to support myself as my career gets off the ground.
Q — Why do you do what you do?
A — My mission as a musician is to bring people together.
Q — What DA experiences influenced you or helped you get where you are today?
A — Durham Academy was instrumental in shaping my interests as a musician. I was incredibly fortunate to not only receive a world-class education at Durham Academy, but also to have access to incredible peers and mentors who challenged and inspired me. Teachers like Michael Meyer, Trevor Hoyt and Pete Joyner encouraged me to participate in the rich musical offerings at Durham Academy, including In The Pocket, AP Music Theory, concert band and the lunchtime percussion ensemble. By my senior year, I would spend every free moment during the school day playing in the music room. I even audited, from start to finish, the Music Technology class during my free period. After all that I got from my musical experiences at Durham Academy, it meant a great deal to receive the Senior Music Award as well.
Q — What are your interests away from work?
A — These days I enjoy socializing, exploring the city and connecting new and old friends, who all seem to be gravitating to the Bay Area.
Q — What’s on the horizon for you?
A — Billboard No. 1.