Adam Ahuja ’05
As the year unfolds, I can’t help but think how often we look at the start of a new decade as a convenient marker for a shift in culture. These new ’20s, however, don’t require any artificial reference point. The changes 2020 has brought have been so obviously generation defining that it rather begs reminiscence to the last moment in American history to which it might arguably compare.

In fall 2001, I was a first-year student at Bucknell. One fateful morning, a classmate ran into my room and woke my roommate and me at around 9 a.m. “The twin towers are burning, and a plane flew into them!” he screamed. We rushed out into the floor’s common space and watched the scene on TV. The reality began to sink in. We were shocked. Tears fell.

Unity Through Creativity
On campus during the following years, many of us were drawn toward one possible reaction to crisis: unification. My campus band, Flowdown Street Six, consisted of musicians from a variety of backgrounds. I’m not sure we saw any parallels between our band and the generation’s values concurrently being shaped, but we knew that the music we were making spoke to the diversity among us and the unity we found through creativity, and that was something we celebrated.

By the end of my senior year at Bucknell, I received my degree in management and finished the pre-health requirements. Feeling more like a self-described generalist, the reality of the specialized economy was starting to hit me. A thirst for academics and adventure won out, and I pursued a master’s in public policy and management at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Adam Ahuja ’05 produced a musical documentary with 40 quarantined artists.
Photo: Bryan Edward
Adam Ahuja ’05 produced a musical documentary with 40 quarantined artists.
While studying in Europe, I grew interested in strategic consulting and began working in the field alongside my studies. Surprisingly, I found that strategy had a lot of similarities with art: both fields valued the intersection of patterns, a broad way of thinking and using creativity.
Making a Shift
By the time I finished my master’s, I was on my way to New York City to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Then, another shift happened.

Living in NYC, the artistic roots that sprouted at Bucknell began to expand again. I recalled a key moment during senior year, when our band on campus opened for Keller Williams and Jurassic 5 at Sojka Pavilion. Until then, I hadn’t considered a career in music, because I wasn’t sure what it would feel like to perform professionally. After that show, I did.

With that Bucknell experience in mind, I began pursuing professional music. Smaller gigs rolled into larger ones. Around 2013, I became a full-time touring musician, performing as a live-looping solo artist and with acts such as Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I’d collaborated with musicians I’d admired, such as Questlove (The Roots), Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) and Brian May (Queen). Bruce Lundvall ’57, Blue Note Records president and CEO, became an invaluable mentor before he passed away in 2015. I am incredibly grateful to have learned from him.

Pushing the Limits
In 2017, I started Infinity Gritty, a music label and consultancy. One aim was to build a catalog of work with musicians around the world that would push creative limits.

Which leads us to 2020. The shows paused. But, there was a new opportunity.

I spent time producing a “musical documentary” on 2020. Forty quarantined artists across the globe, whom I’d known from NYC and the road, collaborated on an album called The People of 2020. The project spanned 14 days, with each musician having 24 hours to write and record a single musical part and pass it to the next musician, with each musician adding to a song one layer at a time. The album’s songs and moods were based on the “social curve” of 2020. It turned out more beautiful than we’d expected. Unification wasn’t dead, it seemed.

Now I’m left with a feeling of affirmation. What better year to examine the path we’ve traveled thus far? In early January, there probably wasn’t a more overused meme than #2020vision. Spinning back around now, it seems as though meaningful vision is something we can all take note of moving forward.