John Ondrasik is a singer/songwriter for Five for Fighting, a husband to his wife, Carla, and devoted father to their two children, Johnny and Olivia. John’s music contains timely cultural introspection as well as an honest look into that which is us. He wrote an inspirational song called, “What If,” a clarion call to rise above what divides us and asks a simple “What if you were me and what if I were you?” John remarks, “Americans are immersed in a shallow culture of instantaneous perception and rabid stereotype. What if we could truly understand each other’s experience and point-of-view? Walk in those proverbial shoes? It might not change our ideologies and beliefs, but perhaps we would have a bit more empathy and understanding for one another…or not…What If?”
He exploded onto the music scene with the release of Superman in 2000 on America Town. The public adoration of Superman stunned his mother, but his father, a rocket scientist, was less surprised. As a businessman himself, he appreciated the long hours of dedication John had put into honing his craft (45,000 hours, according to Applied Science and Mathematics major John’s calculations)!
Superman continued to embed itself in the nation’s consciousness with the events of 9/11, as John joined other superstar musicians for the fundraiser, “The Concert for New York,” a 2001 event dedicated to first responders affected by the events of September 11th. John has also compiled five albums to give away to United States troops, with over a million distributed containing hit songs and bits from superstar musicians and comedians, in addition to Five for Fighting music.
Another major philanthropic contribution came in the spring of 2007 when John broke new ground by creating a video charity website – the first of its kind. Fans could participate in creating videos based around the question from his hit, World, namely, “What kind of world do you want?” and watch videos to contribute funds to their favorite causes. Through the site, over a quarter of a million dollars was raised for Augie’s Quest, Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children, and Operation Homefront.
Raising money and awareness for those organizations plus many others, John finds it easy to get involved in worthwhile causes, often quoting his close friend Augie Nieto, who has ALS: “It’s about significance, not success.” In that vein, he’s also lectured at a TEDx event, spoken at colleges and in other motivational settings and still spends time at the family business, Precision Wire Products, where he worked in college as he began his music career and now working with his father in the business founded by his grandfather, toiling together alongside fellow metalworkers. All of them, making a difference. Significance.
“At the end of the day, it really is about doing your part, each one of us. In whatever area we can. What kind of world do you want?”