Brielle Bengtson and her roommates are huge Jon McLaughlin fans.
“My roommates are obsessed,” Bengtson said. “They came a half hour early to chapel so they could be the first in the auditorium.”
The junior from Grand Rapids, Mich., said the university invites successful alumni back to campus every semester.
“It’s so encouraging to see someone who had a great experience at AU and who looks forward to coming back,” Bengtson said. “They show you the different fields and help you picture where you could be in the future.”
[Photo: Jon McLaughlin performs during chapel at Anderson University on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Credit: John P. Cleary/The Herald Bulletin]
McLaughlin caught Bengtson’s attention because of the way she said he connects with students.
“He shows you that there is more to life than just college,” she said. “And it’s fun to go back and tell all your friends about it.”
As McLaughlin took to the stage Tuesday morning, Reardon’s auditorium lights dimmed. The student body quickly grew silent.
Dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, he sat behind a piano and began to play. The sound coming from the keys crescendoed. McLaughlin’s voice singing “Beating My Heart” soon followed.
“It’s good to be back at chapel. I didn’t go a lot when I was here,” he said. “Chapel was at 6 a.m. then. Oh, it was at 10. It felt so early.”
McLaughlin attended Anderson University from 2001 until he graduated in 2005. It’s the place where he said he wrote most of his songs.
“I thought they (the songs) were gems of pure gold,” he said. “They were really bad.”
Not so bad was the fact that McLaughlin met his wife, Amy, in college on what he called a roommate date where dormmates select a date for a student.
“The roommate date. It’s a million-dollar idea here at AU,” he said. “I was at Harvard and mentioned roommate date. They gave blank stares. They can create Facebook but don’t know what a roommate date is.”
In between songs, McLaughlin shared other personal stories about his life, including how badly he wanted to come home after just a few days of achieving his musical dream.
“I spent four years at AU dreaming. I went off to New York after graduating and played three shows in really tiny rooms,” McLaughlin said. “The label asked me to come to LA. Great! I always wanted to go. I’ll work fast food.”
But after a few days of writing with other artists and songwriters, McLaughlin said he wanted to come home.
“I was miserable,” he said. “I called the label and told them I’d like to go home. They said no.”
From the experience, McLaughlin wrote the relationship-cloaked song “Indiana.”
McLaughlin will return home to Indiana next month as part of his tour to promote his newest album, Forever If Ever. There is even a chance to catch him soon at his alma mater during this homecoming weekend.
“It’s so good to be home,” he said. “I’m going to try to make it this weekend to walk around.”
— April Abernathy is a report for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.