BLOOMSBURG— Drew Nugent, a music performance major at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania will make his debut on “A Prairie Home Companion,” a National Public Radio station that reaches over 558 public radio stations and gathers 4 million listeners each week. Nugent, a freshman at BU, will appear as one of the winning contestants on the shows second annual teen talent contest, “Talent from Twelve to Twenty,” on Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, MN.
A resident of Blue Bell, Nugent began his music career as a child when his mother asked if he wanted to play an instrument. Initially, Nugent played the violin and then surprised his parents when he began playing the family piano without a single lesson. Nugent’s mother quickly signed him up to learn from a local jazz pianist, Joe Benedict, and that is where his love for rag-time and jazz music began. With a love for the great jazz performer, Louis Armstrong, Nugent took on the trumpet and has excelled playing jazz pieces on the brass instrument as well as the piano.
“Without my mom, my musical career never would have started. I owe a lot of gratitude to her and my father for supporting me along the way,” said Nugent.
Nugent and his mother will go to Minnesota for the radio show this weekend where he will perform three three-minute songs and speak with Garrison Keillor, the radio’s synonymous disc jockey. An avid listener to the show, Nugent applied to the first talent contest in 2004 and after hearing no word from the 1920’s- inspired radio station, remained persistent and applied again in 2005. Among the 300 other applicants, Nugent and five other contestants were chosen as the top talented young teens, ranging in ages from 12 to 20.
“I have been a big listener to the show for years now and couldn’t resist applying when I heard about the contest last year. When I found out I won I was so excited, I couldn’t stop jumping up and down,” said Nugent.
The music enthusiast has high aspirations upon graduating with hopes of becoming a performer in clubs and one day working for a radio station. And with a start on the popular NPR radio station this weekend, he is going in the right direction.
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students and offers 65 bachelor’s, 17 master’s and one doctoral degree.