Most college freshmen are just now getting settled into campus life, figuring out how to live on their own and juggle their class demands while still finding time for fun. But teen singer-songwriter Andrew Tufano, newly enrolled at Nashville’s Belmont University, has a bigger project to tackle.
The 18-year-old folk-pop artist is trying to raise $5,000 for VH1’s Save The Music Foundation, and to do so he’s donating the proceeds of his latest EP to the cause. The philanthropic arm of the music television network seeks to promote the benefits of musical education and ensure that music programs are maintained in public schools across the nation.
It’s an important cause to a musician who got a head start on his career thanks to his musical education.
“I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life, pretty much, in music classes,” Tufano said. He started taking piano lessons in the second grade and picked up guitar at 13, and along the way has benefited from the music teachers who fostered his talents.
The Sterling native recorded the EP Dotted Lines while he was wrapping up his senior year at Dominion High School. The EP debuted on Sept. 12, and was a sophomore release for the college freshman. At 16, he recorded his debut EP Right Where We Should Be. From the onset of his second endeavor, recorded at Falls Church’s Cue Studios, he wanted the EP to reach out to others.
“Music is such a good way to connect with people,” Tufano said. “I didn’t want it to be about me; I wanted it to be about other people.”
Visitors to Tufano’s website can track the progress of his fundraising campaign, dubbed “Stuff the Stache!” in line with the mustache logo on his guitar and other mustache icons used in the clean-shaven singer-songwriters branding (“It’s a fun thing to do,” he says of using the recurring logo).
As copies of his EP are purchased online, an outlined mustache on the website will be filled in with green representing the cash brought in toward his fundraising aim. At his last update, he’d collected 3 percent of his goal amount.
Tufano has smaller, intimate shows planned in Nashville and the D.C. area to spread the word about his music and his fundraising campaign. While he wants to make sure the EP “has its life cycle,” he has songs ready to record thanks to a seven-songs-in-seven-days challenge he undertook this August.
Tufano may still be a student, but his music education got him started early on his career path, and he plans to take advantage of living in Music City.
“It’s probably the best thing I’ve done for my career,” Tufano said.
• For more information about Andrew Tufano, visit andrewtufano.com.