Our last update for Adrian Chirtea and Julian Woodrow or better known as “Blackberry Jam” found them enjoying songwriting and recording sessions with teen vocal artist Thilo Berndt from Germany, after attending last year’s Prodigy Camp in Washington State. The two boys, who are identical twins, have now expanded their careers venturing into acting as well as continuing their song writing and vocal recordings.
“Blackberry Jam” is more than just two creative young men with an incredible ability to entertain and make you laugh. These guys have continued to hone their skills leaving me without doubt that their first album, which is currently getting ready to be released, will be more than a huge success!
How it Began
The boys who have been singing since they were in the third grade kicked off their professional career at 14 years of age after begging their Mom to take them to audition on the X-Factor. That successful audition led them all the way to the boot-camp portion of the show before being eliminated.
“It was a fantastic experience where they met scores of budding artists which really cemented their resolve to become musicians;” their mother Heather exclaimed.
Over the following two years the boys published YouTube videos every two weeks, earning them over 2.3 million hits and 14,000 subscribers. This motivated them to develop their instrumental skills in ukulele and guitar. Last year both boys were awarded scholarships to attend Prodigy Camp under the direction of Rick Stevenson which set them on course to become amazing young songwriters. In fact, this month they will return to Prodigy Camp with yet another scholarship and an album full of original songs.
While the boys made many new friends at Prodigy Camp 2013, they really connected with Thilo Berndt, a younger but more accomplished songwriter, and asked Thilo to come stay in Vermont for two weeks later that summer. The three of them spent long days at hip hop camp, visiting lakes, fishing…and long nights recording songs in Julian’s bedroom. The Flow was their first collaboration and video together.
When school started last fall, Adrian signed up for a Creative Writing course. The class had a strong emphasis on poetry and Adrian instead adapted that emphasis to lyrical songwriting. In addition to toiling over pencil and paper, Adrian brought his ukulele to class each day and would often disappear into the neighboring classroom to compose music to the lyrics he was writing. This dedicated songwriting time allowed Adrian to develop a collection of 20 love songs, many of which will appear on Blackberry Jam’s first album, “End of the Night.”
As the 2013-14 school year wore on, they were asked to play live shows at local schools. Together they spent hours honing and developing a 55 minute live show including popular cover songs, originals, guitar and ukulele, and stories about what it was like to go through “bootcamp” on the X-Factor and The Voice. As they entered more and more schools, they were shocked to realize that music program in schools were so severely under-funded. Students would come up after the shows to tell them that Blackberry Jam was motivating them to sing and play music again. So Adrian and Julian enhanced their live show with a series of stories about how they got started singing and songwriting. What began as a straight live concert, quickly morphed into a variety show of motivational speaking where they would talk about how cool it is to sing, overcoming stage fright, and how they generated over 2 million hits on YouTube! They also added a lot more opportunities for audience participation and by the end of each concert the whole crowd would be singing right along with them. By the end of the school year, they were doing motivational speaking and singing concerts at elementary and middle schools all across Vermont.
With the incredible reception of their school visits, they are planning to set up a more formal school tour in the Fall and expand their concert tour visits beyond their local state of Vermont. The tour planning will happen over the summer, so if you want to see Blackberry Jam come to your local area please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. They’ve had a lot of success in performing at evening fundraiser concerts and splitting the door proceeds with the local schools. They raised nearly $1,000 in one night to benefit a school last year. They are working towards booking some anchor school performances and then expanding outward to the local regions throughout the East Coast. A lot of fans in Illinois and Texas are urging them to come already.
In addition to live music, the twins got picked up by DDO Agency, a group of really good TV and theatre agents. If you follow Adrian and Julian’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, you’ll know that Blackberry Jam posts a constant stream of photos of New York City. This is because DDO Agency keeps sending them on weekly auditions for TV commercials, Broadway shows, and television opportunities. The auditions crop up suddenly and if you were their classmate, you’d notice it was a common occurrence for the twins to be pulled out of class at a moment’s notice and disappear for a day or two. They typically don’t talk about where they’ve been or what they’ve auditioned for, because it’s often confidential.
Julian said, “The funniest thing is when we get a late day audition in New York. A lot of times we’ll get picked up at lunchtime, drive 4 hours to New York and get back home well after midnight. We’ll literally be back in class the next morning and nobody even realizes we were gone!”
Nobody, except their teachers who record a huge number of classroom absences. But so far Adrian and Julian have been able to keep up their nearly straight “A” grade point average, so their teachers have been really supportive in allowing them to make up missed work after school. They recently secured their first commercial, a hilarious online video for “Hello Flo” that went viral and generated 21 million hits in the first week.
In February, Blackberry Jam connected with a local recording studio and started laying down their first album. All the money they make from live concerts goes straight into paying for studio time. They have most of the album written, about half the tracks recorded, and only 2 more tracks to compose.
With the summer in full swing, the twins are travelling up and down the East Coast shooting videos and recording music into the late night hours. They are trying to build up a backlog of videos before school starts again. Then by September 2014, fans will be able to buy the very first Blackberry Jam album.
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