An explorer since a young age, one of AJ's first musical experiences nearly gave his parents matching heart attacks. Somehow, at three-years-old, AJ had snuck out of the house to listen in on a piano recital at his godmother's piano studio two houses down the street. In order to discontinue these spontaneous escapades, it was decided that, for his safety, AJ needed to start taking piano lessons. Since then, AJ's curious explorer has never slowed down, constantly trying out new instruments and taking on fresh challenges.
Classically trained on both the piano and the violin, AJ began to write music when he was 8 years old. At first, he improvised incomplete patterns when he was supposed to be practicing, but gradually grew to write entirely new songs. The lyrics didn't start coming until the age of ten, around the time AJ became the fiddler for the Herndon Circuit Riders, a community bluegrass/gospel band.
While attending the nationally acclaimed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, AJ was a violinist in the prestigious American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Youth Orchestra, and a Young Associate to the National Symphony Orchestra. Still an avid composer and lyricist, AJ attended the University of Virginia's Young Writers Workshop in the summers of 2007 and 2008 where he studied songwriting under the guidance of Tom Prasada-Rao, Cary Cooper, and John D'earth. It was in Charlottesville, VA that AJ purchased his first guitar and his passion for songwriting evolved into an insatiable need to create music.
Flip the coin, and during the academic year, AJ became increasingly intrigued with physics, quantum mechanics, and optics, which led to an internship and eventual contract position with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Due to his research in the field, AJ was presented with the Optical Society of America's Achievement in Optics award and new paths to continue his education in physics and optics were highlighted in a nearly irresistible shade. But there was no doubt in AJ's mind that music needed to be at the foreground of his college education so in the fall of 2009, AJ packed up his keyboard and began his undergraduate studies in Music Theory & Composition at New York University as an NYU Steinhardt Scholar.
In NYU's 2011 UltraViolet Live (UVL) talent competition, AJ was awarded best solo performance in the final round after improvising an entirely new song using a loop machine, audience voted genre specification, and three words from the judges. Since UVL, AJ has redoubled his focus on songwriting as a profession thanks to the guidance of composer Herschel Garfein and songwriters Alex Forbes, Billy Seidman, and Phil Galdston.
Recently, AJ was named the 2012 Songwriters Hall of Fame/NYU Songwriting Scholar of the Year. In the same week, AJ was also admitted to NYU's new summer songwriting workshop led by Phil Galdston, Jonatha Brooke, Angela Hunte, Barry Eastmond, and Ron Sadoff.
Whether inking in clever hip-hop rhymes or penning heart-wrenching blues melodies, AJ hopes to develop into an "any genre" professional songwriter and continue conversing with curiosity as he begins to enter into the fray of the music industry, always feeling like a young explorer.