Ever since he was a child, Feifan (Lucky) Lu ’18 has felt a need to communicate, keeping journals and improvising songs to express his innermost feelings. For his Senior Project, Lucky wrote and composed his first full-length song, “When We Were Young,” a quiet but uplifting track meant to encourage his peers about the uncertainty and excitement of their coming years.
Lucky was inspired to write the song when, after working through the night, he observed the sun rising over his hometown. It reminded him of the promise following one of life’s difficult periods. The song’s lyrics focus on themes of motivation, working hard, and pushing through difficulties in order to make the most of life. “I want my music to encourage my peers to bravely face their futures,” he said.
The difficult days about which Lucky writes were the ones he experienced as an only child in growing up in China. Though initially carefree and joyful, he became insecure the more aware he became of others’ perceptions of him. Lucky didn’t look like his peers: the genetics of his English grandparents had granted him reddish hair and distinctive features. Despite his efforts and perfectionism, Lucky didn’t excel academically. He was not good at sports. When he moved to the United States as an international student, he struggled further under the weight of a language and culture of which he had no knowledge. Depressed and withdrawn, Lucky took up songwriting at 14 as an outlet to document and express his emotions. At 16, he taught himself to play the guitar.
Writing music and singing has been cathartic to Lucky in a way that he had not expected. He describes the first time that he heard the recorded version of his song as emotional. “It was really moving,” Lucky said. “Instead of hearing the voice of a teacher or friend, I heard my own voice encouraging me.” Yet, despite the personal nature of his songs, Lucky is not apprehensive about sharing them with others. “I’m a Buddhist, and we emphasize that the spiritual body is more important than the physical body,” Lucky said. “When I am singing, I give myself completely to the stage and focus only on my spiritual body: the source of my emotions.”
Adam Judd, dean of Performing Arts, served as Lucky’s Senior Project mentor. Adam was instrumental in helping Lucky with the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of his project: translating the song from Mandarin to English. Lucky said he found it challenging to write as lyrically in his second language. The young self-proclaimed perfectionist said he erased lines from the songs “millions of times,” striving to make it as poetic and resonant as possible.
Someday, Lucky hopes to be able to make and publish music that will inspire and encourage listeners. But currently, he looks forward to college, which he hopes to attend in the United States. For now, his peers seeking affirmation about taking the next steps into their future will have to be content with the song Lucky wrote specifically for them. “It’s not a song you’d play on the bus,” Lucky said. “It’s peaceful and quiet, but it does have an impact.”
Click through to watch video of Lucky and his peers’ presentations at Senior Project Presentation Night.