The Spotlight: Diane Nusbaum

Hannah Perry, A&L Editor

When it came time for senior Diane Nusbaum to leave her hometown of Maquoketa, Iowa, she knew she wanted to pursue music, one of her biggest passions. She was determined to major in music production while staying in Iowa to get her degree. After looking at multiple schools, she visited Buena Vista University. She fell in love with the school’s traditions and had the chance to talk with Dr. David Klee, Professor of Music, about her desired major. All these factors plus a scholarship made her decision to enroll set in stone.  

Officially a BVU student, Nusbaum immediately became involved in the performing arts on campus. She had loved to sing from the time she could talk, so it was no surprise when she started taking voice lessons and eventually enrolled in choir. During her years in the music department, she discovered another outlet for her passion. She became interested in rock ensemble, a student-run band that gives music production majors and non-majors the opportunity to put on a performance themselves. Now the only senior in rock ensemble, Nusbaum is spearheading the group and hopes to put on a concert next semester.  

“I try to run the group as more of a democracy so we have the best possible outcome for everyone in the group and put on the best possible show we can,” Nusbaum said.  

The moments Nusbaum spent practicing and honing in on her musical abilities paid off when she was invited to perform at campus events, including the Black Student Union Awards. She was also featured on alumni Job Saunder’s album Shredder (Deluxe) in the original song “Watch Me Burn,” which has resulted in her getting even more chances to sing for others.  

“Back home, because of that song, I’ve gotten performance opportunities and was featured in a local show,” Nusbaum said.  

Finding more ways to become involved in the performing arts, Nusbaum tested the world of acting. Although credited as something she now loves, Nusbaum initially did not think she would enjoy being an actress. She had an appreciation for theatre but could not see herself taking part in it if it did not involve music.  

When the production Woman Wonder was developed, Nusbaum connected with Dr. Bethany Larson, Professor of Theatre, and scored the opportunity to create a sound bed for one of the pieces in the play. From there, she worked with Larson and David Walker, Assistant Professor of Theatre, more and noted that seeing the things they did piqued her interest in theatre. The guidance of her professors, along with her newfound interest later prompted her to officially become a music production and arts management double major.  

“David and Bethany have definitely helped me build my confidence in that department a lot more and have helped me grow a lot,” Nusbaum said. “Because of them, I ended up getting a lot more involved in the theatre department and realized that’s kind of another avenue I would be interested in working in.” 

As Nusbaum became more comfortable in the BVU theatre community, she eventually auditioned for the directing showcase. She landed a role in a ten-minute play and would later star in Radio Daze, Spamalot, and Magic Theatre. Throughout her time on stage in theatre, rock ensemble, and choir, the biggest obstacle was not memorizing music or remembering what line comes next. Instead, it was working on her confidence.  

“I get really in my head, that’s my biggest problem,” Nusbaum said. “Getting to the point where I am confident enough, and can remind myself that I’ve done all these things and opportunities is something I hope to work on and get better at in the future.” 

Nevertheless, Nusbaum did not let self-doubt get in her way. As a senior on her way toward graduation and the future, she has big plans. Whether it’s working in a recording studio or simply getting coffee for the person that does, she’s willing to do whatever she can to get her foot in the door of the music industry.  

“My ideal job would be music producer or getting any job in a recording studio,” Nusbaum said. “My ‘in the clouds’ kind of job is a recording artist. I would love to be touring and making my own music and having albums.” 

The dream of making her own albums is not far-fetched, as Nusbaum is currently working on a collection of songs with the help of rock ensemble. The 8 to 10-song album will consist of cover songs that are reimagined, including a country song turned pop-punk. The release date has yet not been determined due the logistics of posting the songs.  

“Because it’s a bunch of covers, I’m not 100% sure about how to release it without spending too much money,” Nusbaum said. “I’ll probably put some songs on YouTube. I have most of them recorded, it’s just a matter of mixing, mastering, and rerecording vocals. I’m looking at getting stuff out starting next semester just so I can have it as perfected and nice as it possible. 

Looking back at her time at BVU, Nusbaum stayed true to her ideology of sticking with her passions through continuing to be involved in music and theatre. She pursued the things she enjoyed and encourages others to do the same.  

“Make sure what you’re doing is something you absolutely love because if you don’t love it, you’re not going to bring forth the greatest possible outcome and product you can,” Nusbaum said.