John Ondrasik ’88

Posted On - May 22, 2015

Singer/songwriter John Ondrasik ’88, who records under the name Five for Fighting, has built a reputation for creating music that deeply moves listeners and for using his gift of music and his fame to benefit others.

From the beginning, John Ondrasik’s life was permeated with music. His mother began teaching him to play the piano when he was two years old, developing his love for music early on. He taught himself to play guitar and began writing songs at age 13. While he was a student at UCLA, Ondrasik began to consider seriously the idea of a career in music. As he recorded and released music, he explored new ways to incorporate philanthropy into his work.

With the release of his single World, Ondrasik launched a video community site to raise money for charities including Save the Children, Fisher House Foundation, Autism Speaks and Augie’s Quest. Donations go to selected charities every time a visitor views or uploads a homemade video. Ondrasik encourages visitors to add videos that answer the question, “What kind of world do you want?”

In 2001, Ondrasik attracted the national spotlight with his Grammy-nominated song Superman (It’s Not Easy) from his platinum album America Town. Produced well before the tragedy of 9/11, Superman endeared Ondrasik to the survivors and families of those lost in that tragedy, as well as to servicemen serving around the world. It became a song of healing for the devastated nation and thrust Ondrasik into the national spotlight. He performed alongside Paul McCartney, Elton John and Billy Joel in The Concert for New York, which honored the firefighters, policemen and paramedics involved in the events of Sept. 11.

Ondrasik’s relationship with the 9/11 survivors and their families led to life-changing experiences and celebrated philanthropic work for the singer, who has since found performed USO concerts around the world. His audiences have included General David Petraeus and the National Guardsmen at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I am struck by the sacrifices the troops and their families make for our way of life, and I felt it was important to show my support." Ondrasik says. 

Ondrasik continues to tour, drawing energy from his devoted fans. In August 2006, Five for Fighting released Two Lights.

Slice, Ondrasik’s fifth Five for Fighting album, is the product of his collaboration with Academy Award-winning and Tony-nominated composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). Slice opens with first single Chances, a sweeping, grand pop song with a simple message. Says Ondrasik, “It’s all about taking the swing – there’s beauty in the scars.”

He also conceived and produced For the Troops, compilations featuring superstar recording artists, as well as For the Troops III, which features comedians exclusively. These CDs, which are available for free to that he is committed to contribute his art to serve others.

Ondrasik’s ongoing support of servicemen and women, and his dedication to his own wife and children, led to his receiving a special fatherhood award from the National Fatherhood Initiative’s 2009 Military Fatherhood Award Ceremony. In addition to his music and charity work, he fills his life with other projects, such as writing a column for Sports Illustrated, songwriting with the likes of Brooks & Dunn and Josh Groban and scoring music for such films as August Rush and Chicken Little.

His passion for his music is matched only by his passion to make the world a better place.

Boxed_WhiteType_Alumni cog user CLOSE MENU