For as long as Joshua Babu can remember, music has been a significant part of his life. As soon as he learned to talk, he was already starting to sing.
“Josh has always loved music,” said Vasvi Babu, Josh’s mom. “It’s no surprise to me that he has made it such a big part of his life.”
At age four, Babu learned to play the piano and can now proudly say that he also plays the saxophone, guitar, ukulele, harmonica, cajon, and bass. Playing so many instruments has been no easy feat. He practices a minimum of 30 minutes daily and a few hours on a productive day.
“Sometimes I have to tell Josh to shut up because he’s practicing late at night and I want to go to bed,” his mother said with a laugh. This truly exemplifies dedication. Whenever the Notre Dame Preparatory High School senior starts something, he always sees it through, no matter what it is.
“I don’t just finish it to finish it,” Babu stated.
He puts everything he has into any project he takes on. Babu confided that he worries that some people may see him as a “try hard” or a perfectionist, but he prides himself on always staying positive.
Rachel Sipes, a senior at NDP described her close friend exactly how he sees himself. “Josh is someone who is above all else dedicated,” Sipes said. ” But he’s also someone who is very creative, so it’s a good combo.”
Babu is extremely dedicated, not only music, but to academics. He recently qualified for the National Merit Scholarship Program, joining three others: Reilly Bettis, Tayler Smith and Brandon Figeroa. On the Scholastic Aptitude Test( SAT), Babu scored a 1,500, a full 420 points higher than the national average of 1,080.
Combining his academic and musical strengths, Babu spent countless hours preparing a music video as part of his application to Harvard University. The song he chose was “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur. He recorded the music in the background himself, meaning he played each necessary instrument, and then layered them through his computer to produce the sound of the original song. Next, he recorded his own voice over the music. His closet became his unofficial recording studio, so that he could minimize echo. It took approximately 10 hours to complete this aspect of the video.
Babu was meticulous in creating the set too, which took quite awhile to get perfectly right. Babu chose a white theme in the end. He bought countless white knick knacks to place around a white background on the side of his house. He purchased a giant white board to go against his house to act as a backdrop. He dressed in all-white clothing and asked his friend, Jacob Staudenmaier, to film it.
“Josh was so fun to work with,” Staudenmaier said. “We’ve worked on projects together before, but this was a definitely a favorite of mine.”
What really stole the show during the music video was the paint being thrown on Babu throughout the duration of the video. It added a truly unique effect. There were no professionals helping with the video. The paint was thrown by fellow NDP seniors Sipes, Annie Kane, and Kiara Cornella. Babu will find out if he is accepted into Harvard in the middle of December.
Musically, Babu says he feels as though people see him as the “typical singer, songwriter.” He admires Khalid.
“He’s 19 and he’s already on his way,” Babu said. “He writes about exactly what he’s feeling. James Arthur and Lukas Graham also both write exactly what they’re feeling. It’s not like processed in anyway, it’s not really pandering, it’s more or less ‘this is what happened in my life.’^”
A member of the Jazz Ensemble at NDP, Babu chooses to play the saxophone and occasionally sings solos. The band is led by Bob Powers, who is a jazz lover.
“I consider any jazz player to be extremely dedicated,” Babu stated. “Mr. Powers is one of the most dedicated-to-music people that I know. He works day in and day out. He teaches all day, which can get really frustrating. He also plays gigs at night. He’s constantly practicing his jazz, which is really difficult stuff, so I really look up to him.”
“Josh is definitely one of my most hardworking students,” Powers stated. “I can always rely on him when working on a project.”
A student Babu admires in the Jazz Ensemble is senior Sophia Kezirian, who plays the bass.
“She works harder than anyone I know at music and at bass,” he said.
In the future, Babu sees himself hopefully attending an Ivy League School. His second choice behind Harvard is Princeton. He would like to minor in music and become a doctor one day. His dedication carries over to his love of medicine.
“I volunteer as a scribe at a Level One trauma center at Honor Health Osborn and then I shadow various optometrists and ophthalmologists,” Babu said. “I want to figure out some way to combine my passion for medicine with my passion for music.”
Like any average person, Babu has his own struggles, especially with song writing. Babu can be hypercritical of himself, feeling the lyrics to be too generic.
“I feel like my voice is sometimes just another one among the crowd,” Babu stated. “It’s difficult to find what makes you stand out.”
Babu always tries to be unique in creating his music, making what he wants to hear, not what others want to hear.
Babu is also interested in film making.
“I really enjoy screenwriting,” he said. “My friends from Arcadia High School and I have placed first and second in a lot of national and international film festivals. I was the co-founder and head writer of Babushka Productions, as well as the head writer for Squid Squad Productions. We won Best Use of Theme for the A3F 72-hour competition, where we were given 72 hours to make a short film with a given line of dialogue “this can’t be happening”, a given prop, which was a text message, and a given theme, which was deception.”
Overall, Babu is a dedicated student, musician, film maker, and friend with large but achievable goals set in front of him.