TJ Harris turns Redwood’s hallways into his musical playground

Hannah Halford

Harris passionately strums his guitar
Harris passionately strums his guitar

A distorted BlackStar amp and a Jackson guitar ring proudly through the Redwood hallways and outdoor areas. An original sound of a metal mix dominates the airwaves, stemming from an individual’s love and commitment to music.

Senior T’Juan Harris, more commonly known as “TJ,” has a passion for music that is apparent to anyone who knows him. His determination and clear mindset for his future in music never wavers because he believes in his talent, TJ said.

“I’m inspired mostly by my drive to succeed and better myself, which is why I do what I do as a musician,” TJ said. “If you don’t have that drive and passion, you’ll end up having it crumble in front of you and you’ll basically be lost.”

TJ has taken a few music classes, one being Intermediate Performance Workshop at Redwood for one semester, and the other being a basic music class at his middle school all four years. His gift was especially apparent to his former high school music teacher, John Mattern.

“He’s really interested, loves music and has a passion for it, and has a specific genre that he’s really into: metal,” Mattern said.

TJ’s drive has contributed to his success in generating over 34 original instrumental tracks and he has recently begun to write lyrics, but has not recorded a full song yet.

“I record the track in my room, and do a bunch of takes. I will replay the tracks over like any other band would, and then when I finally have the sound I’m looking for the way that I want to play the song, I’ll post it up on SoundCloud,” TJ said.

TJ said he has been successful in writing his own music, but has faced difficulties when separating his vision from reality.

“The challenge of writing my own music would be having the sound in my head and then trying to actually play that sound, and process that to see how that sounds when recorded,” TJ said.

His biggest musical influences are Linkin Park, Red and Disturbed, who have all displayed the distorted sounds and rhythms that he hopes to achieve in his own music.

TJ’s self confidence and experience that he has accumulated through his performances have taught him a lot about what it means to be a performer. Besides his Instagram livestream, TJ performs around school to conquer his stage fright.

“It’s all about motivation, drive and dedication. Not a lot of people have that golden standard on their plate, which is why I differentiate myself from certain people by that,” TJ said.

Harris proudly raises his guitar to the crowd
Harris proudly raises his guitar to the crowd

For most musicians, performing is a nerve-racking experience, and TJ described a time when he performed that has helped shape his musical approach and resilience as a musician.

“The very first time I did something like [a performance], I froze up. I’m training myself up by playing outside around certain areas of school, so that’s good practice for me,” TJ said.

TJ plays his electric guitar ritually, and explained how his mood was the determining factor of his practice routine.

“It all depends on how I’m feeling and how my day went. If I’m super tired and not feeling it at all, I might not play that entire day, especially if I’ve played at school and carried my gear to and from school. Any other given day I play quite a bit,” TJ said.

TJ’s mother, Tammie Harris, vocalized the effect that music has had on her son and the support that she will continue to provide for him.

“I think if he didn’t discover the talent within him, and if he didn’t wake up that part of him, he wouldn’t be fulfilled. He plays night and day, and is very dedicated to his craft. I’m so proud of him, there’s no words. He has no idea of how proud I am of him,” Tammie said.