HomeWhy You Want To Support Jim Diego's The Whitney Project

“Be who you are and say what you feel because people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind."
– Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite quotes.  In fact, I chose this one to accompany my half-pager in my high school senior year yearbook.  These words are ones I’ve tried to live by throughout my formative years, into college, and now today as an adult – my “mantra,” so to speak.  Since graduating high school in Kansas, I’ve grown to embrace who I am in all my endeavors, through my academics while in school; through my tasks and duties in my career as an architect and urban planner; and of course, through my passions as a performer.

So it probably comes as no surprise to those that know me well that I’ve decided to pursue a solo recording project.  It has always been a dream of mine, ever since I was a little kid, to record something at a professional level. When deciding a common theme for my project, I always kept that Dr. Seuss quote in the back of my head.  …Be who you are – something I have never been afraid of doing.  In a time when civil rights for all persons has returned to the forefront of the political and ideological rhetoric, and projects such as “It Gets Better” are realized in response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied because they were gay or because their peers suspected that they were gay, I felt that it was important to be able to contribute my efforts to a cause near and dear to my heart -- being able to empower people, especially young people, to “be themselves” – to discover their self-identity and value their individuality, uniqueness, distinctiveness, characteristics and personality.  

This album is a way for me to be able to demonstrate to them that it's "okay" to be different, that it's "okay" to be an individual and not subscribe to the norms of society.  Surely, it's not everyday that you'll see a guy tackle an album of songs originally performed by a woman, let alone Whitney Houston.  You may ask, why Whitney? In my opinion, her songs have an emotional depth and a musical intricacy, qualities that can be interpreted in many different ways. Not only will I be challenged in those emotional and musical levels, I'll also be attempting to break down barriers of gender conformity myself.  And still exude *fierceness* while doing so. (werq.)

Gender stereotypes for young people are becoming less rigid than they have been in the past, but they still remain a pervasive part of popular culture.  As an adult, social politics and games are an ever-present part of life. There’s a constant pressure in many circles to be a certain way, act a certain way, live a certain lifestyle. I say... ignore all that. Figure out who you are, what you want, and just go do it. Forget the world and their expectations of you. Life is way too short, and your true friends will support you in what you want to do, no matter how geeky it is.  I'm doing it... and I'm doing just fine - while realizing a dream.


About the author:
Jim Diego is a current and founding member of the New York City based CAL group, the Red States.  He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Michigan, and four-year member of the co-ed group, Gimble. Jim is also a much sought-for clinician, judge, and critic for visual performance and choreography in a cappella. He was recently appointed CASA Ambassador for the New York City Metropolitan Area, and can be followed via Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/groups/AcaNewYork or via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AcaNewYork. He will be releasing a solo multi-track EP composed of Whitney Houston covers in March of 2012, and is currently raising funds through Kickstarter at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jimdiegomusic/jim-diego-the-whitney-project.  Find his musician page on Facebook, as well, at http://www.facebook.com/JimDiegoMusic.