Inspired by mentors, student sings the blues

Brother Jacob album coverJacob Schulz has a full plate — on top of his schoolwork, he also has an on-campus job.

But that’s not all – he’s also managed to find time to follow another of his passions: singing the blues.

Schulz, a junior in urban and public affairs, released his debut album “Blues from Below” Saturday.

“I’ve technically been working on the CD since July but didn’t go into the studio until August,” Schulz said. “The CD is half original songs and half cover songs. I had written my original songs two or three years ago and as for the cover songs, they’re all from artists I really admire.”

Not only does Schulz sing songs from his role models, he also got to duet with one of them, blues musician Deitra Farr.

Schulz performed June 8 with his band, Brother Jacob and His Blues Crew, at the Chicago Blues Fest. He has performed at the fest before with other musicians, but this year was his first performing by himself.

“It’s so nice to be in the blues industry because there’s easy access to all these artists who are internationally known,” Schulz said. “These folks in Chicago were like, ‘We need to encourage him to keep going and singing and do what we can to help him out.’

“There are hardly any young, let alone African American, boys trying to perform blues anymore.”

Schulz is a student supervisor in the Commuter Student Resource Center and vice president of the Student Resource Board.

Balancing student life and life in the blues community started becoming a lot to handle. There was a time when he took a step back and wondered if singing truly was important to him, he said.

“It was nice to meet all those artists and talk to them because they provided a lot of advice and pointers on what to do about my future,” Schulz said. “It was a big decision to finally make a CD because I’m paying for it out of my pocket and I was always busy.

“But blues lives within me no matter how hard I try to separate myself and the music industry.”

Hear samples from his CD or order a copy on his website.

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