PRINCETON — A climber at the base of the mountain, he leans toward the heavens to see the peak. He begins his climb, every stretching step a necessary number in the equation of ascension. The journey takes him through the range of his abilities, and mandates continuation, regardless of any rock solid obstacles or avalanche of adversity. Every step he recalls, from his first to his final, he witnesses what eyes can’t encounter. The zenith ... an outcome of the capstone within, the pinnacle born from the plains.
When Justin Tranchita was young, his family moved from the suburbs of Chicago to a farm outside of Princeton past the Red Covered Bridge. It was there he mastered the techniques of running through the yard barefoot, blazing bonfires in the deepest retreats of empty cornfields and carving jack knife plunges into the currents below the bridge. It was there his story was established.
“It’s kind of been a long road out of Princeton,” Tranchita said, mentioning his uprising in the green blades of Midwestern sun allowed him to fully acknowledge the artist within. “People who knew me back in the day, knew I was always writing songs and playing shows wherever they would let me.”
When Tranchita left town, he got into the entertainment business and produced several shows and music for other people. His involvement was integral in Disney’s Broadway show, “The Little Mermaid,” which ran out of Branson, Mo., this last summer, and he “played the fool” on the Discovery Channel show, “Game of Pawns.” He has worked on some movies since, but writing music has always been his greatest joy, and recently delivered his greatest achievement.
Tranchita’s single, “This is America,” rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artist Chart on Tuesday, Nov. 17, after debuting at No. 4 on the chart the week prior. Presidential candidate Ben Carson will use Tranchita’s single as his official campaign song. Tranchita said the song is dedicated to the country he loves, and Carson supporters and the current political environment surely helped the single catch fire.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” he said, speaking of the accolade few on Earth ever accomplish. “This isn’t the song I expected to go No. 1, so hopefully I have a few left in the can.”
Tranchita started as a rock singer but has since transitioned to more of a country strummer, and has fond memories of a quality childhood in Princeton that supplied him with many close friends to this day. His upcoming record is scheduled to be released around Christmas with 12 songs that include a rendition of the Car’s “My Best Friend’s Girl,” a song with Dickey Betts from the Allman Brothers and his personal favorite, “Saturday Night Beauty Queen.”
“Life on the road is pretty crazy, but God’s been really good to me, and I’ve gotten to see the whole world,” Tranchita said, having jammed on stages in Thailand, Seoul, China, Russia and Israel, to name just a few. “I’m just a lucky kid out of Princeton.”
Tranchita said Princeton is one of the best places a kid can grow up with its wholesome approach and open spaces to stretch out the imagination. He shared his pride in the football team advancing in the playoffs and voiced his peaceful anticipation to swing through town soon and rile up some old smiles.
“I just wanted to reach out to everyone back home and thank them for their part in my story,” he said. “No. 1 is a big deal, and I’m just in shock the good Lord is giving me this opportunity.”
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