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Indie-pop crooner Jon McLaughlin hopes to enchant Columbus audiences

Courtesy of The Brooks Company

Being an Academy Award-nominated singer is all in a day’s work for indie-pop singer Jon McLaughlin.

McLaughlin was nominated in 2008 for the song “So Close,” which he performed for the movie “Enchanted.” McLaughlin is scheduled to stop at The Basement Friday at 7 p.m. to promote his latest album, “Forever If Ever.”

The singer performed his hit at the 80th Academy Awards for nearly 32 million U.S. viewers and was just as excited as he was nervous, he said.

“You can’t really fathom how many people that (are watching),” he said. “Needless to say, it was very nerve-wracking.”

To help imagine the people that would be watching, cardboard cutouts of every actor in attendance that night were placed around the Kodak Theatre a week beforehand in rehearsals, which didn’t help McLaughlin’s nerves any, he said.

“I’m already freaked out about forgetting the words on live television, but I was all the more worried about looking out and … locking eyes with Tom Hanks and completely forgetting where I am,” he said.

Among other successes in McLaughlin’s career, his single “Maybe It’s Over” from his latest album debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Top 100 chart, and the album debuted in the Top 20 Albums Chart , alongside artists like Beyoncé, Maroon 5 and Adele.

For McLaughlin, it wasn’t about being happy he reached No. 1, it was about feeling “complete relief” that his album was deemed a success.

“It’s been so long since I’ve come out with a record. … You think, ‘I have no idea how many people are going to buy this,'” he said.

When working on an album for two years, it’s surreal to think nobody knows it really exists yet, McLaughlin said.

“Until the release day comes along, you really have no idea how it’s going to do,” he said.

For his third studio album, “Forever If Ever,” McLaughlin said he chose to write 50 to 60 songs, drawing from his relationship with his wife and moving back to his home state of Indiana, among other things.

“It’s probably why I love the record so much, because it draws from so many aspects of my life,” he said.

McLaughlin’s musical life began when he was 4 years old. He was forced to go to piano lessons, in which he mostly played classical pieces. He didn’t like playing until he got to college, where he also started exploring the writing process behind music, he said.

“I think when I was a kid, I always wanted to make music,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly how to do it back then.”

While growing up, McLaughlin would play with his youth group band, but since none of them really knew how to write music, they played whatever they felt like, McLaughlin said.

That ability to vent his musical frustration is why he’s in the business today, he said.

“That’s what saved me, I think,” he said. “I grew up reading notes on a page and playing classical music which I love now, but I hated back then.”

Now, as an adult and an accomplished musician, it’s all about touring.

In the middle of his 40-city tour, he’ll make a stop in Columbus, where some Ohio State students are not familiar with his work.

Adeola Adelabu, a first-year in biochemistry, said while she isn’t too familiar with his work, she does like the songs she does know.

“I’d probably look him up a little bit first (before deciding to go to the show)”, she said.

Taissa Zappernick, a first-year in biochemistry, has seen “Enchanted,” but said it wasn’t the best song in the movie.

“It wasn’t the most memorable song in the movie,” she said. “(Disney) featured it as a back-up song.”

Zappernick did note that while it may not have been the best song in the movie, the song was very “sweet” and fit the context of the story well.

While students are playing catch-up with McLaughlin’s music, the singer is constantly writing more.

“I think my draw it is just that I have to do it,” he said. “Something in the same way like (journalists) have to write, I have to write music.”

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