News and Events
John Paul Lam: Pursuing a Passion
By Jaclyn Tully
As a person committed to his faith and to music, Pepperdine senior John Paul Lam has combined his two passions and shares them with the world. With his first album, Nineteen, already recorded, Lam is quickly capturing the attention of the music world and may be on the brink of a very successful music career.
Born in San Jose, California, Lam was introduced to music at a very young age. He began playing the violin at age 3. At 5, he was learning the piano, at 10 he moved onto the trombone, and at 12, the drums. He has since taught himself to play the ukulele and the guitar. Lam cannot remember a time when he wasn’t singing; the first song he wrote, about a butterfly, was written when he was 3 or 4.
When he was 16, Lam and his family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to work with New Hope Christian Fellowship. The move to Hawaii brought inspiration, giving him a greater appreciation for music and the arts. “I felt a calling to use music to inject a positive message into the music industry and my generation.” Around the same time, songwriting became a passion and, in three years, he wrote enough songs to record Nineteen, an album which was recorded in his self-made studio at his home and in his Pepperdine college dorm room.
After the release of Nineteen, Lam took his show on the road, touring at various churches. He entered a competition hosted by the Gospel Music Association and came in First Place for the 2004 Spotlight Vocal Solo 1 Competition. Subsequently, he was approached by Michael Blanton, a man known for helping launch the careers of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.
Blanton invited Lam to Nashville to work with his writers and help him develop his talents as a musician. When he graduates in April 2006, Lam plans to move to Tennessee to pursue his dream full-time.
Doors have continued to open for Lam, although they haven’t always opened right away. Lam and his best friend, Ken Primeau, from San Jose, made a pact to go to college together before Lam moved to Hawaii. They chose to attend Pepperdine and almost immediately knew they needed a job. They came up with what seemed like the perfect idea and decided to approach the manager at Duke’s Restaurant in Malibu to see if they could perform.
They were told that the manager wouldn’t be interested in their idea. Hopeless, they returned to their resident hall, only to be confronted by their resident advisor, Marcus Rodriguez, who told them to persevere. Taking Rodriguez’s advice, they returned to the restaurant only to be turned down once again. Again Rodriguez encouraged them to try again, but this time, to bring their ukulele and guitar. Rodriguez was certain that if the manager heard them play, he would hire them on the spot.
“They saw us coming with our guitar and ukulele and, before we even said anything, they asked us what we were doing there,” recalls Lam. “We told them that they had to give us a chance.”
The manager finally let them play three songs. After their performance, Lam and Primeau were asked to come back every week.
Lam was also asked to spend a semester with Rollo Dilworth at North Park University in Chicago. He has always loved Black gospel music, which is reflected in his songs. Dilworth recognized this and asked Lam to study under him and write for his gospel choir. During the first week of summer, Lam toured with Dilworth and his Black gospel group all over the East Coast.
In the future, Lam hopes to be known for his uncompromising music and as a man of faith. As a telecommunication and production major, with a music emphasis, Lam is aware that “Hollywood is one of the strongest forces in the world and someone is going to use it for their message and benefit. Understanding it is one of the first steps to using it effectively.”
In the meantime, Lam is enjoying his time at Pepperdine, “One of the greatest things I have been able to witness at Pepperdine is people who give of themselves without expecting anything in return. They give so freely of themselves, of their time and their knowledge purely for the sake of investing in the lives of the students. Watching that has been an incredible example and that is not something that you can learn in a classroom but it’s an invaluable lesson for life and to be able to make a difference in other peoples lives.”
To check out John Paul and his music, please click here.