Tyrone native chases music dream
Jaysen Gold moved to Tennessee after graduating from PSU
A Tyrone native is pursuing his dream. “I always wanted to be a country music singer.”
Jaysen Gold, a 2004 Tyrone Area High School graduate, said “When I first saw Alabama perform on TV, I knew instantly that was what I wanted to do. I’ve spent my whole life pursuing that.”
Gold said country music was all he listened to as a child.
“I listened to Alabama, Reba (McEntire) and Doug Stone. I just loved that. I loved everything about it. I always watched the CMA Awards — that was like the Super Bowl for me,” Gold said. “I was in awe that someone could make money singing from their heart and people would buy it and have a personal experience with your music.”
Lesa Gold said her son always had an interest in music.
“When he was really little, he used to get out the pots and pans and pound on them. He always had a guitar. If he didn’t have a musical instrument, he would make his own. He always had Alabama on the radio,” she said.
Gold remembers growing up on Columbia Avenue. He spent his elementary school years at both Adams Elementary and St. Matthew’s School.
He said he first performed at the Church of the Good Shepherd at the age of 10.
“It was a Christmas play. I played Johnny Angel. I was an apprentice angel. I had one solo. I was really nervous, but I got through it,” Gold said.
Gold started taking voice lessons in Altoona when he was 10 and joined the Blair Concert Chorale Children’s Choir.
One of his voice teachers was James White, who was an instructor in the music department at Juniata College at the time.
“He was a very nice young man, very polite, and was very hard working. I knew he had a lot of drive,” White said.
Gold also was involved with the Altoona Community Theatre from sixth to ninth grade and did a summer workshop with Karen Volpe.
While in high school, he was involved in several musicals.
“I did musicals such as ‘Guys and Dolls,’ ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ ‘The Wiz,’ and was in POPS Extension (high school choir),” Gold said.
After high school, Gold moved on to Penn State and graduated in 2008 with a degree in broadcast journalism.
He then went to work at country music radio stations in both Altoona and State College as a disc jockey from 2008-12.
“If I was ever going to be a DJ, I wanted to work at Froggy. My air name was Swampy in State College and Jeremiah Bullfrog in Altoona,” Gold said.
However, to pursue his dream as a country music performer, he moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2012.
“I had some goals as a DJ and I met those goals. I got the chance to see and meet Reba McEntire, Sugarland and Alabama. I got tired of playing other people’s music. I wanted to be the music that was being played. I was 27 at the time. Recording contracts usually go to people under 30. I knew my time was running out,” Gold said.
In 2013, Gold married his wife, Hillary, whom he met in Nashville. To support his family, he went back to school and earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Middle Tennessee State University.
He was hired as a sixth-grade teacher at Harris Middle School in Shelbyville, Tenn.
“The principal there gave me a start as a teacher. I didn’t have student-teaching experience. What is ironic is the town’s phone number has 684 in it and the mascot is a Golden Eagle (both same as Tyrone). But the colors are blue and gold — Bellwood-Antis colors,” Gold said.
Principal James Sullivan said Gold is an outstanding educator who puts the needs of his students first.
“Jaysen prides himself in being able to make the learning process engaging and enjoyable for his students. When I first met Jaysen a few years ago, his enthusiasm for teaching and learning was evident. During the past three years, he has provided direct teaching to more than 300 students, started a journalism/newspaper program at the school, and begun a mentoring partnership with one of our feeder elementary schools,” Sullivan said.
Gold said there are similarities between performing and teaching.
“The stage feels like home to me; teaching also feels like being on the stage,” Gold said.
Gold began his Nashville singing career by playing at open mic nights at various venues.
He got his break in October 2015 at the Commodore Grill. That experience led to several other bookings.
Gold released his first country album, “About Time,” in March 2016 and will release his second this spring. It’s titled “Where is My Breath?”
On Christmas Eve 2015, Gold put together a song called “Tyrone,” a tribute to his hometown.
In that song he mentions several local landmarks including the paper mill, Grazierville Bridge, Church of the Good Shepherd and Gray Memorial Field. East End Hoagies and Jean-O’s Pizza also get a mention.
“I thought it would be a good thing. I wanted to do something to give back to that part of my life. It turned into something big,” Gold said.
In October, Gold returned to his hometown to perform at Tyrone Area High School.
“It was a really neat experience. I wound up in the old choir room, drank out of the same water fountain. The last time I was on that stage was for ‘The Wiz.’ That was my favorite high school experience. To be on that stage with my own music and selling my own merchandise was a fulfilling experience, and it was amazing,” Gold said.
Gold said he has been inspired by Altoona native and Grammy Award winner Mike Reid and Cresson-native Josh Gallagher, who recently finished in fourth place on the television show “The Voice.”
“Mike Reid is someone I aspire to be like — he and Josh Gallagher. Mike did a show in town about 30 minutes from where I live. I have talked to him on Facebook, but we have never met. Josh and I have a mutual writing partner and we have played at some of the same venues in town. He is so inspirational; we are from the same area and he is moving along,” Gold said.
Gold said he had a happy childhood growing up in Tyrone and credits several teachers — first-grade teacher Linda Albright, fifth-grade teacher Linda Snyder and seventh-grade teacher Beth Cannistraci — as those who played key roles in his development.
“I am a teacher because of the teachers I had in school and the impact they had on my life. I had so much fun in those teachers’ classrooms. I loved going to school; I hated the snow days,” Gold said. “I got everything from Tyrone to make me the man I am. It has given me all it could give me.”
Cannistraci, who taught Gold junior high science, said he was easy to remember.
“If you talk to any teacher, after year 10 it is hard to remember everyone. Jaysen was a kid you knew you would remember forever. He was polite to the staff and his peers. He had a positive attitude that was contagious. He was someone you liked being around,” Cannistraci said. “I do like listening to his music. It is super cool to know that you taught him and that he is a teacher.”
Gold also had supportive parents in Lesa and long-time Tyrone High School resource officer Robert “Bub” Dick.
“His dad and mom were very supportive. He (Jaysen) had a good work ethic and was raised by a mom and dad with a good work ethic,” Snyder said.
Prayer is also important to Gold.
“If Jesus were not a part of my journey for both roads, there is no way I could have made it. I have had a lot of prayer and support from my mom and dad and my wife. It has all been a series of doors that have been opened to me through prayer and I have been going through them,” Gold said.
Gold loves teaching — he also serves as faculty adviser for the school newspaper — but he has big dreams for his music career.
“I would really like to one day make my primary income from music, song writing, publishing or being a recording artist. To have a number one single one day would be great,” Gold said.
White and Snyder are not surprised by Gold’s success.
“He had a lot of drive and he had a dream of doing this. He was a realist; he knew what he was getting into, that this was not easy and that you had to work hard at this. I am very pleased he is doing well and I expect greater things to come,” White said.
“He said he always wanted to be a country singer, and there was no one who was going to stop him from doing it,” Snyder said.