By Emily Williams, Assistant Features Editor
Murray State’s Jared “J-Fresh” Jones has been rapping and singing since he was a fifth grader in St. Louis, and the performer recently took his musical artistry to the America’s Got Talent audition stage in Memphis, Tennessee for the second time.
After auditioning for America’s Got Talent in January 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri, Jones said the judges liked him and gave him a second audition, this time with the executive judges on the show. Jones said he took the audition and was just one round away from making it far enough to be on the TV auditions. He said that inspired him to try out again this year.
“The year before I tried out, I saw it on TV,” Jones said. “I saw that Nick Cannon was on there and I’ve always looked up to Nick Cannon. So I was thinking like, “Wow, I could audition and possibly meet him and that could open up doors for me.’”
Jones is a junior at Murray State, majoring in music business with a minor in business administration, and he said it is sometimes hard to balance school and his art.
“There’s not really any studios down here so I’m mostly just making music when I go back to St. Louis, so that helps a lot,” Jones said. “I just make sure all my school work is done first. When my free time comes in, that’s when I write new songs or listen to new beats. So I just balance it out. Time management, basically.”
Jones said rapper Lil Wayne inspired him to pursue his dream, and that he admires J. Cole, another famous performer, because he finished college while pursuing his music career.
“He finished school and now he’s big time,” Jones said. “I look up to that because I want to finish school. I want to get my degree.”
Jones said his number one goal is to make others’ dreams come true. He said the main reason he creates his art is to express the things he’s been through that others can relate to.
“I know what it’s like to have that dream just sitting inside your head and nobody really believing in you,” Jones said. “Like it’s just you against the world. I want to help people’s dreams come true, too, and to serve those people who have the same dream as me.”
Terron Gilmore, senior from New Orleans, said he and J-Fresh have been friends since 2014 and that if he could describe him in one word, it would be ‘cool.’
“He’s been working hard on his music,” Gilmore said. “He deserves to get far.”
Gilmore said you never have to expect negativity in J-Fresh’s music.
Storm Herron, J-fresh’s producer/engineer from St. Louis, said he has known him for two or three years and he has noticed that he is an extremely hard-worker and is always improving.
“He’s definitely serious about his art form,” Herron said. “He works and works on his creativity and he raps about real-life things. He’s consistently working on his craft.”
Herron said J-Fresh brings something new and fresh to the hip-hop world.
“I see him being true to who he is as an individual because he writes about his experiences,” Herron said. “There’s a genuine factor to that and that’s very rare.”
Herron said he believes J-Fresh deserves to go far on America’s Got Talent because he is not only a creative person, but a good person all-around.
“We want to see people like J-Fresh,” Herron said. “We want to see people with that kind of a heart, that kind of a spirit. I think he deserves the opportunity because he brings that balance. He makes songs about things that are motivational.”
Herron said he thinks J-Fresh makes very relatable music that centers around overcoming adversity.
“He’s the kind of the guy that you want to see win,” Herron said. “He’s the kind of the guy that if he wins, everyone wins. Because he’s always looking for ways to improve himself, he’s always looking for ways to help others improve.”
Jones said he expects to hear back from America’s Got Talent in March letting him know whether he made it to the next round of auditions or not.