Darius Bernhardt ’19 changed direction mid-college to pursue his passion and learn the ins and out of a career in the music industry.
Philadelphia native Darius Bernhardt ’19 has always been drawn to Hip Hop music. If he wasn’t listening to it as a youngster, he was writing it. By 14, he had already created his first six-track CD under the stage name Dolla D.
In high school, however, his music took a backseat to sports and academics. By the time he enrolled at Albright College, he had all but abandoned the idea of having a career in the music industry.
Instead of choosing a music major, he decided to study in Albright’s crime and justice program. A career in crime scene investigation seemed like a good fit for someone with a knack for science and a strong desire to help others. Albright’s program would lay the groundwork for that pursuit.
But by sophomore year, Bernhardt said, “I felt an emptiness in my heart. It was not really what I wanted to be doing.” Something was missing from his life, and that something was making music.
When he learned of Albright’s major in music industry studies, he was elated — his family understandably skeptical. After all, he could easily complete his current major in the prescribed four-year, eight-semester cycle of an undergraduate education, and ultimately become a successful forensic scientist.
Besides, what exactly does one do with a degree in music industry studies? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
Working in the college’s state-of-the-art recording studio, Darius learned the ins and outs of digital audio recording, editing and music production. In the classroom, he learned about music law and business. Involvement in Lion Enterprises, which is comprised of Lion Records, Albright Publishing Group, Lion Management and the college’s Songwriter’s Organization, brought all aspects of the industry together for him, and provided the tools and opportunity to create his own music under a new stage name, The Kid Abel.
An internship with Albright’s radio station, WXAC, gave him an even broader appreciation for music, and honed his analytical and writing skills. As the station’s music librarian, he examined new music in all genres — assessing their formats, checking them for FCC compliance and writing reviews about them for The Albrightian student-run newspaper.
Bernhardt said the financial support he received from Albright donors helped tame the feelings of self-doubt he had about his direction. “It showed me that people see value in what I’m doing. Those who help are the type of people who can change the world.” And now, Bernhardt aspires to be one of them.