Jon McLaughlin, American pop-rock singer-songwriter, producer and pianist has many ties to AU. As his mother used to work for the university, he followed in his brother and sister’s footsteps, choosing to attend and study music business. Growing up in Anderson, McLaughlin always knew that he would one day be a Raven.
McLaughlin spent his time in college cultivating his passion in the music field, growing in his faith and discovering his foundations. Finding his talents within the music department and countless hours in the practice rooms, he proved his efforts worthy on stage and off.
Orangehaus Records, AU’s recording studio, helped kickstart McLaughlin’s career, and as the first artist to sign to the label, he said, “God was so kind while I was there to have a place like Orangehaus where I could connect.”
In 2002, Mocha Joe’s cultivated its first showcase, allowing musicians like McLaughlin and Sidewalk Prophets to perform and compete. The first year, Sidewalk Prophets won with what McLaughlin claimed to be with “nailbiting results.” The next year, McLaughlin was selected as the winner and was given the opportunity to make a record.
“Producing and releasing my first album was incredible,” said McLaughlin. “It was such a unique thing to have an outlet like that and that’s really where I got my start.”
His passions on campus really revolved around his music, but he also found time to be invested in a social club. McLaughlin recruited Dativus his sophomore year, but because of his busy schedule, he claims to have only attended about three meetings in the three years he was a member. At Cheap Thrills, a retired Dativus-sponsored show, he played and performed whenever he could. He performed in Encore as well.
As he began writing songs his freshman year of college, McLaughlin said he found his place in the practice rooms in the music building and within the community that AU provides, though not much of his time was spent on campus. His last two and a half years in college, McLaughlin was gone every weekend, traveling for music opportunities.
In 2006, McLaughlin signed to the Island Def Jam Records. This label produces for top artists such as Elton John, Kanye West and Fall Out Boy. After signing with this company, McLaughlin traveled often and produced records.
“I used to travel whenever and wherever I had to play,” Mclaughlin said. “But my wife and I have two little girls now, and if I’m going to be on the road, I want it to make sense, so I travel less now.”
McLaughlin has made quite a name for himself in the music and production world. Providing music for TV shows such as Scrubs and Ghost Whisperer, his songs have also made a debut in Bridge to Terabithia and Georgia Rule. He also sang and performed the song “So Close” in the Disney film Enchanted. Opening for Kelly Clarkson in 2007, McLaughlin has also toured with pop singer Sara Bareilles, recorded a trio with Jason Mraz and Van Hunt and has co-written two songs with Demi Lovato.
Quite a music sensation, McLaughlin credits AU with his beginning, finding engagement and experience on campus.
“When I think back on college, my mind goes to the memories I made in dorms and the experiences I had,” said McLaughlin. “It was like being at camp for four years with my closest friends.”
Finding comfort in the Christian environment AU provides, McLaughlin says that “the university did not put a stamp on me, but they sent me in a certain direction within my faith and within my journey.”
Noting the faculty as a core reason for his college memories, McLaughlin said that they “opened the minds of students and helped them navigate through college and through life.”
McLaughlin has spent his life creating music and developing his passions. Finding his beginning in Anderson, Indiana, he thanks his small town roots as he says, “AU is a really great environment for strengthening strength and diversity, I am grateful for having such a great experience.”