Young musician finds his voice in Fairbanks

Profile: Elijah J.J. Graham

Photo Credit: Warweb Designs, LLC


Music performance, voice


Paris, Texas

Class standing:


A bit about me:

I like being someone people can turn to.

Why did you choose UAF?

I chose UAF for quite a few reasons. I've spent a lot of my life in Fairbanks, so it was nice being somewhere familiar. Many of my friends are here so it's great to be able to see them. When it came time for me to choose which program was right for me, the decision wasn't difficult at all. This environment has been so nurturing, and I've gotten to see and experience a lot of things that not everyone gets to this early in their career. Being surrounded by such natural beauty doesn't hurt either.

What is your favorite thing about UAF and why?

My favorite thing about UAF is the opportunity. Personally, I've gotten to do so many things that have helped me grow as a person, a professional and a musician. I've gotten to sing with world-renowned opera singers, some of whom have even sung at the Metropolitan Opera. I was able to travel to Luxembourg this past summer to participate in a prestigious music festival. I've participated in and even placed in and won a number of music and singing competitions. I've been able to receive so many opportunities as a solo artist that not all young singers receive this early in their career. I've been so fortunate here at UAF. It's the perfect place to grow as an individual in your field and future profession.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a prospective student interested in UAF?

Soak up as many experiences as you can. Putting yourself out there can be difficult and/or terrifying (I'm somewhat of an introvert so I get it) but it really helps you to get to know yourself — what you like, what you dislike, etc. It helps you find potential in yourself in areas you didn't even realize you had it. It helps you develop as a human being. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and, if you do make a mistake, embrace it, analyze it and learn from it. Also, some of the best advice I've ever received is "fake it 'til you make it."

Graham and Nanook bearWhat field work have you done at UAF that will help you find work in your major?

For the past two years, I've been an apprentice with the local opera company, Opera Fairbanks, and have been a part of many of their productions, in both featured roles as well as chorus parts. I was a featured soloist for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival for two years in a row as well. I've been a part of both the Fairbanks Symphony Chorus and the Choir of the North. The most recent experience that I was fortunate enough to have is to participate in the Vianden Music Festival and School, an annual music festival that takes place in Vianden, Luxembourg.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

After I graduate, I hope to be admitted to and attend a graduate school to pursue my master's of music.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

At this moment in my life, I would like to live in New York City. It is the artistic capital of America, in my opinion. There is so much culture, history and inspiration there, and I feel that I would grow so much as an artist just by being there. The people are so unique. It's the city in which I feel my growth as a person and career would benefit the most.