One young man, who is definitely some one to keep an eye on, is the talented, gifted and truly amazing John W. Graves. A writer, singer, actor, dancer, director and producer, Graves is truly the ultimate all around performer. At the age of 20, he has accomplished more than most do in a lifetime. In between going to class and getting school work done, Graves wastes no time in taking his talent to new found heights. Graves has taken a variety of classes including business and communications, but his main study is secondary education with a minor in dance. He is also the director of the West Chester University Choir and choreographer for the Contemporary Dance Company here at WCU. Outside of school, Graves has his own theater company, Forever Revolutionizing Everyone Essentially (FREE) and his own singing group called Liberty. He is also part of the Evelyn Graves Production team, and performs and directs his own productions around the city as well.
How does he do it all you ask? As Graves puts it, when you love what you do, it is not really work. Work to Graves is going to school and going to class, all his other activities are his passion, so it comes naturally to him, like drinking water.
Graves began his journey into the arts at a very young age. His grandmother, Evelyn Graves, owns her own theater company, and when he was born he had no choice but to perform. As he puts it, “it was basically like a religion almost, performing.”
Graves really had no choice, especially since his entire family is involved in the arts covering every aspect from dance to writing, acting to singing, playing an instrument, fashion designing or even photography- someone in his family is a part of the arts. Graves started performing at the age of three. His first play was “Handwriting on the Wall,” where he played as a lion.
Though the journey was rough, Graves has no regrets in the path that he has chosen. His music, his dance and his art, has shaped him into the person that he has become. He knows his talent is God-given, and he gives his thanks everyday by continuing to grow in his talent.
Currently, Graves is working on his play called “My Son, My Brother, My friend,” which is a contemporary urban play about Jesus Christ and the lives that he touched throughout his life. Graves has put on the play twice already, and each time it has been sold out. Now Graves plans to take his play on a Christmas tour to places around Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Graves’ inspiration comes from God; this is how he keeps himself busy and focused on all his goals and aspirations. FREE is the one organization that has most of Graves’ attention as of right now. Graves will be having auditions for his organization and in the future he plans to allow anyone, regardless of age, who wants to be in the organization.
In his future, Graves plans for FREE to grow and prosper. With his organization, Graves hopes to give people the opportunity to perform and to experience the things he experienced growing up. He also hopes to give people the opportunity to find themselves through the arts as he has.
Graves believes in the power of expressing and freeing yourself on the stage through performing in front of people. As Graves puts it, he sees himself, “Changing lives one script, one play or one song at a time.”
Selina Carrera is a student at West Chester University majoring in Communications, with minors in Music and Journalism. She can be reached at SC637309@wcupa.edu.