Eric Rutherford ’17 on Music, Songwriting, and Fulfilling Dreams

Music alum Eric Rutherford, who earned his BMus in Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music in 2017, has recently been profiled by InTune magazine. A songwriter and band leader originally from Detroit, Eric has been persistent in his pursuit of producing jazz, classical, pop, and blues music. He sat down with Kevin JP Hulihan from InTune to discuss his career path. You can read their conversation here:

What made you choose to attend Columbia College?

It seemed like such a contrast to everything I had ever been exposed to coming up in Detroit. Like going there would allow me to step into a new world – a dream even. 

How did you decide which program was the right one for you?

I knew pretty early on that the CUP program (Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music) was the perfect fit for me because it’s where I felt the most at home. Anything else just felt like it would be incomplete. Besides, CUP for me seemed to fuse the best of all the disciplines anyway from a composition side, as well as business or straight instrumental focus.

What was a typical day like on campus at Columbia College?

Waking up 30 minutes before a Gen. Ed. class. Leaving 10 minutes early to get to a piano and work out solo ideas for my private lesson. Trying to fit in time to complete homework or eat (Sometimes having to choose). Ending the day at the music building practicing until the cleaning lady kicked me out before they shut the lights off in the building at 11 o’clock. Getting home in time to scrape together dinner.

What was the most memorable moment during your time at Columbia College? 

In 2016 I was fortunate to be selected to represent the college at two songwriting camps in Europe. I remember riding through the Italian countryside on a bus thinking “Boy am I long way from the East side of Detroit” feeling grateful not only to be seeing mountains for the first time in my life, but that the school believed in me enough to represent them across the world. I felt anything was possible.

Do you have any advice for middle & high school students who are thinking about attending a college for the arts?

Looking back now I could have never imagined what really awaited me once I said yes to Columbia. Know that success, happiness and a steady career are possible through schools like Columbia, you just have to make it work for you. Be your own biggest fan and believe in your dream more than any person on this earth.

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