It’s unimaginable to think that 170,000 people could know your name. That is a reality for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater sophomore Will Cullen. With music as his passion, he shares his talents on TikTok, the popular video-sharing app with 300 million users.
The University’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted a virtual welcome back concert Thursday night on Facebook live and YouTube. Cullen and his acoustic guitar headlined the show. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, five audience members were allowed to see the show live. The concert took place at the Jitters Coffee Lounge which is on the first floor of the Wells East tower on UW-Whitewater’s campus.
It was not Cullen’s first music performance, however. During the summer, he plays concerts in different parks in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois.
“I’m just trying to get myself and my name out there,” Cullen said, “and I’m having fun while doing it.”
He believed in his talents this summer when he tried out for “The Voice,” a singing competition show on NBC. Numerous people encouraged him to try out, and this year, of course, it was virtual. Through the number of videos he had to send to get a callback, unfortunately, Cullen didn’t make it past that point. He persevered and kept posting his music to TikTok, where he grew a larger following. Nothing has changed since coming back to school for Cullen.
“Yeah, I heard that he sits in front of the new residence hall with his guitar and takes song requests from the people walking by,” said RHA Publicity and Recognition Director Abby Daniels, “it shows how talented he is that he takes song requests on the fly like that.”
That is what happened at the show too. Spectators on YouTube and Facebook live were able to request a song through the comments section. What made the show special is he took people’s song requests and mashed the two songs together. Most of the song requests were country and pop songs since those easily translate through the acoustic guitar Cullen was playing.
The crowd from both ends enjoyed the show. Even with an in-person crowd of five, Cullen engaged them to sing along with him. The virtual crowd loved it too, as comments of enjoyment and support for the UW-Whitewater sophomore flew through the comment section. There were prize drawings throughout the performance, and the winners got the prizes delivered to their dorm rooms.