How is a teacher similar to a pop-music star? Both present themselves professionally in front of an audience.
That’s why Florida Gulf Coast University student Parker Shogren, a teaching intern working toward a degree in education and a self-taught musician, is ahead of the game. Shogren wrote his name on the whiteboard every day when he went into class this spring at Cypress Lake High School in south Fort Myers, but his dream is for his name to appear in the Billboard rankings.
So far in his music career, Shogren has performed for crowds from his hometown in Cocoa Beach to the stage at FGCU, where he is a senior graduating in August.
“Making music on my own, I learned you have to pick up multiple talents,” said Shogren, who started out playing guitar in middle school. While Shogren says he’s most skilled on the guitar, just in the past year he taught himself to play the drums, bass and piano to go along with his vocals. With an appreciation for many different musical genres, Shogren says his main interest is creating “pop music with acoustics and emo punk.”
Making beats in his bedroom then recording songs in a local studio helped Shogren attract recognition from a staffer at Call Radio based in Chicago, Jed Brewer. After accepting an offer to record a song written by Brewer, Shogren got the opportunity to collaborate on the piece with a vocalist from the band Death Therapy.
“His (Shogren’s) song ‘Death Sentence’ is part of the regular rotation on 102.3 FM,” Brewer said. “This industry has a lot of people who hope their music dreams will come true, but there aren’t a lot of people who are willing to put in the work. Parker is a combination of someone who has a lot of talent and work ethic, and our station is proud to be part of his early success.”
The possibilities are great when you have the equipment and support system, which are assets that Shogren is still building. He knows the demand for an online presence and plans to attract more attention with regular website updates.
“You’ve got to be able to advertise yourself, whether that’s a catchy logo or catchy way to make an appearance,” Shogren said. “And then you’ve got to sell yourself to people after you’ve created an image, show why people should want to listen to or buy you, and that’s a big thing.”
With an EP and two singles on platforms including Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music, Shogren’s also selling fan merchandise on his website. His next step is focused on networking.
“I feel like I’m going in a weird order with this because I made a song and then got it played on the radio without having any following,” Shogren said. “I have to kind of build up to get to where I am because now my content is bigger than what I am.”
Michael Patella, business director for FGCU’s Eagle Media, staged auditions to determine performers for the Eagle Radio Music Festival, which took place the last week of March on the Great Lawn.
“Our selection was based on talent and stage presence, but also dependent on how we could provide performance opportunities to as many student acts as possible,” Patella said. “With Parker, he showed great potential during his audition and rocked the lawn during his performance at the festival.”
One of Shogren’s songs, “Never Be The Same,” could be described as sounding like part of a soundtrack for a teen coming-of-age movie because of the upbeat rhythm mixed with expressive verses.
James Tacy, an FGCU junior majoring in communication from Spring Hill, enjoyed Shogren’s performance at the Eagle Radio concert. “He played a mix of originals as well as covers, and even though I never heard any of his songs before I saw him live, the lyrics were so catchy that I was getting hyped with everyone singing along,” Tacy said.
— Isabella Cummings is a junior journalism major who interns with FGCU Marketing & Communications. Students interested in a paid writing internship should contact Keith Gibson at [email protected]