PIRATE PROFILES Johnathon S. Spell
Singer Johnathon S. Spell started performing with his church at the age of 3. After his first solo in middle school, he knew that he was destined to be on stage.
“I’m happiest when I am performing,” said Spell. “I started singing when I was really little, and I have been in school choir since fourth grade. I’ve always known that I was meant to be a performer.”
Spell said that he has been training in classical music since high school. “I’ve always believed that classical training is the foundation for pursuing other types of music. I think my early love for choral music contributed to my love of classical music.”
A native of Greenville, Spell is a junior at ECU majoring in music, specifically vocal performance. He has participated in the ECU Marching Pirates color guard, the ECU Chamber Singers and the ECU Opera Theatre. During his freshman year, he was the only male on the color guard. In the upcoming season, Spell has been cast as the tenor lead in ECU Opera Theatre’s “Four Saints in Three Acts.”
During his time at ECU, Spell has performed at several notable venues, including Varna, Bulgaria and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Spell said that his most memorable experience was travelling to Bulgaria and competing in the European Grand Prix competition for choral singing.
“All of the organizations that I’ve been a part of are really wonderful. I’ve enjoyed them so much,” said Spell.
When asked about his role model, he said that he looks up to his grandfather, Roy S. Spell, former fire chief for the City of Greenville. As a firefighter, his grandfather’s work and life emphasized the importance of morals, strength of character and hard work.
“My grandfather grew up during a difficult time. He faced a lot of challenges, including segregation and the remnants of Jim Crow laws. I look up to him because he is a man of God. He always does what is right and good,” said Spell.
Following his graduation, Spell plans to go directly to graduate school. He hopes to attend a conservatory and continue singing.
What is music to you, and what is your dream job?
“My dream job is to be a famous classical singer. I want to continue performing in the most prestigious venues around the world,” said Spell.
Overall, he wants to touch the lives of others with his voice, Spell said.
“To me, music is a universal language,” he said. “There is no type of communication like music – it transcends boundaries. It touches hearts and souls. It expresses your feelings when you can’t explain them with words. I think music is quite literally one of the most powerful things on earth.”
Your words to live by:
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” -Song of Solomon 8:7
What advice do you have for other students?
Although it sounds cliché, by all means, go to class! I promise you’ll get something out of it, even if your professor puts all the notes on Blackboard. Also, study beforehand because all-nighters are not always the best way to go.
College: School of Music
Major: Music – Vocal Performance
Hometown: Greenville, North Carolina
Clubs & Organizations: I was the only boy on the ECU Marching Pirates Color guard during my freshman year. Actually, The ECU Marching Pirates is one of the best organizations to join at ECU. I’m currently a part of the ECU Chamber Singers and the ECU Opera Theatre.
Hobbies & Interests: Singing, spending time with friends and family, cooking and sleeping
Favorite place to eat: Tokyo Japanese Restaurant on Memorial Blvd.
Favorite Movie: The Lion King
Favorite website: YouTube
Favorite place on campus: AJ Fletcher Music Center
Favorite hangout: Greenville Town Commons
Favorite class: Chamber Singers
Favorite band/musician: Beyoncé
Favorite TV show: Glee
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Daniel Shirley
The one thing you cannot live without: Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Role Model: My grandfather, Roy S. Spell
Dream Job: To sing/perform internationally
“To me, music is a universal language, there is no type of communication like music – it transcends boundaries.”
– Johnathon S. Spell
Taken from the East Carolina University website
Written by: Sophronia Knott
Photography by: Cliff Hollis