Fallon O’Neill didn’t see the moment as an audition, but it ended up landing her a record deal.
The junior Diamond Gems dancer said entering Philadelphia’s Fuzztone Records was more about having fun than being signed.
“I came to school and met a good friend who was interested in music and interned with Fuzztone records,” O’Neill, an acoustic singer songwriter, said. “She had recording equipment at her place and she was like, ‘Oh my God, you have such a great voice, I want to record you,’ so she pulled out all her equipment. I sang and played a song, and she ended up showing it to her bosses at Fuzztone.”
While O’Neill does not have as much time as she would like to put toward her music, she is taking advantage of the opportunity.
“The people I am working with there are really wonderful and when we get a chance to meet, we try to be as productive as possible,” O’Neill said. “We want to get my music out there and see where it takes me.”
Although dancing is one of O’Neill’s favorite activities, music offers her a different set of opportunities.
One particular opportunity led to her performing the National Anthem with her guitar in hand at the Liacouras Center in 2013.
“It was a really big game,” she said. “It is especially nerve-racking to perform in front of your peers. Walking off and having [men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy] say, ‘Great job,’ that was so cool. Not many people get to experience that.”
While singing and playing the guitar, O’Neill’s teammates support her through it all.
“It was a very unique way of playing the national anthem,” senior and Diamond Gem captain Crystalle Johnson said. “In my four years at the university, I have never seen someone go up there and sing while playing the guitar. I think she put a great spin on such an important song and I enjoy hearing her sing.”
O’Neill’s hard work paid off after she won last year’s Miss Congeniality award, given to a Diamond Gem who shows dedication, no matter how tough an athlete’s schedule is.
While balancing music and dancing, O’Neill is majoring in speech-language-hearing sciences and minoring in public health. O’Neill said school is one of her top priorities, which causes her music career to slow down.
“It is very difficult to balance,” O’Neill said. “I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to it as I would like, because of that it has been making the process a lot longer. We have been working on an album for about over a year now and it is still not finished, so it is kind of frustrating.”
O’Neill said Diamond Gems don’t enjoy as many perks compared to Division I student-athletes at the university.
“A lot of people just think we get on our little sparkly dress and wave our pom poms,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes we are not taken as seriously as other student-athletes when we put in a lot of work.”
For now, O’Neill is enjoying her time as a dancer and working toward a career in her major, but said her life can go in a variety of possible directions.
“I think everybody’s dream at one point was to be a big pop star or movie star,” O’Neill said. “In my perfect world, if money was not an option, I would totally love to be a full-time musician and make that work. I would love to just dance all the time, play music and do more artistic things.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.