Graduate Releases First Album under Realize Records

Penn State grad John McManus, of Media, released a compilation of music on November 1 under independent record label, Realize Records, in Los Angeles. The album, titled "613," has an "indie" alternative sound to it and was inspired by McManus' desire to "share his life thoughts through music," he said, adding that he uses music as a vehicle for expressing his feelings in the hopes that others can relate.

McManus spent two years at the Penn State Brandywine campus before graduating from Penn State's main campus in 2001. He had planned for a career in teaching, and after an internship as a student teacher, he became a substitute for the Chichester School District.

McManus had intended to return to Penn State to pursue an advanced degree in the field when his mother fell ill. "When my mother got sick with cancer ? family took precedence over everything at that point," he said. Through the loss of his mother, McManus felt an intense desire to "help others in song."

He had started playing guitar in high school and said that was "the beginning of the artist in me." Songwriting came next. "Lyrics are critical to me," McManus explained. When asked how he comes up with song lyrics, he said it is all about "brainstorming, which is kind of like what you do when you write a paper" for school.

McManus noted one episode at Penn State that changed the course of his life: he gave one of his professors a recording of music tracks he had made. The professor liked it and asked McManus if he had ever listened to Bob Dylan. When McManus responded he hadn't, the professor recommended some Dylan albums. "If ever there was a moment that Penn State impacted my music career, it was then," he said.

In the spirit of the tradition of philanthropy at Penn State, McManus donated all the proceeds of his release party on October 27 to the Trevor Foundation, a non-profit that helps with suicide prevention and crisis intervention for gay and lesbian teens. "I have friends that are gay and I wanted to support their rights," he said. "I felt that the Trevor Project was doing a really good thing by helping these kids to be at one with themselves, and I wanted to support that."  

Even though he is not teaching in the classroom, McManus is teaching others through his songs. "My mom used to always say that nothing is a waste of time and you learn from everything."  This is certainly true of McManus.

McManus' album, "613," is available for download on iTunes and Amazon. Visit his website at for more information.

-by Jennifer Santangelo, senior