BIG RAPIDS – A lot of high school and college students watch anime cartoons or read manga comic books, but how many take that interest in Asian popular culture beyond the TV screen or the page? Joy Trute, for one.
“It all really started in high school when I did the Rotary International Youth Exchange,” says the Big Rapids native, who is graduating with a degree in Music Industry Management from Ferris State University. “They sent me to Tiachung, Taiwan, for a year. I experienced Asian culture and learned the language – Mandarin Chinese and a little bit of Taiwanese.”
While her attraction to anime and manga motivated her to travel, it was the theatrics of rock’n’roll that started Trute down a path that would take her to Ferris.
“I saw this Mad TV Halloween special where KISS came on and did a little skit, which I thought was hilarious,” she says. “As I got older and realized I wasn’t going to be a rock star, I started looking into being a tour manager, or something of that sort. That’s when I found that Ferris had a Music Industry Management program.”
Then, this past January, Trute attended the annual trade show for the National Association of Music Merchants in Anaheim, Calif., thanks to a scholarship from NAMM.
“Walking around the floor I found a company, Dong Jou Percussion, that was from Tiachung, so I sat down and started talking to them in Mandarin Chinese and they were just blown away,” she recalls.
Thanks to her rare combination of talents, this past summer Trute returned to Tiachung through a paid internship with the company. There, she took on a wide-range of projects – everything from re-writing the company’s English-language product booklets to acting as interpreter for a visiting percussionist, as well as organizing the drum clinic he gave.
Since Trute returned from Taiwan, she has maintained a relationship with the company by working to line up distributors for its DJ Drums brand equipment. Also, the company donated two drum sets to the University thanks to Trute, who pitched the donation of the drums to the organization. And, in a move that is bringing Trute full circle, Dong Jou is paying for Trute to attend the 2009 NAMM conference next month in Anaheim to work for them there.
What’s next for Trute?
“There are so many things you can go into with the Music Industry Management degree,” Trute says. “I’d really enjoy doing something international using my language skills. I just want to be in the music industry because it makes me happy.”
Trute and other Ferris graduates will cross the stage to receive their degrees on Saturday, Dec. 20, at Ferris’ Wink Arena in Big Rapids.