Journalists and musicians come under heavy pressures every now and then. Whether facing tough sources to get a story before deadline or hundreds of screaming fans at a local venue, Anthony “Tony” Croff, Mineola senior at The University of Texas at Tyler, doesn’t get tired of facing either.
The journalism major sings and performs country music at various venues across Texas and holds the title of editor in chief for the university’s student newspaper, the Patriot Talon.
“I’ve played guitar since the fourth grade and started singing and doing the country music stuff my freshman year in high school,” said Croff, who also serves as music director for New Hope Baptist Church near Mineola.
At left, Croff performs during a Tunes at Noon event held at UT Tyler. Below, Croff and Travis Webb, Patriot Talon news editor, discuss newspaper design.
“In high school I occupied my time between school, marching band and church music, as
well as playing country music on the weekends.”
By seventh grade, he became a band member of a group that performed at church and community events. Since branching out solo, he has had numerous opportunities to perform the music he loves. He auditioned and earned a spot as a regular performer on Cross Timbers Country Opry in Stephenville, Texas while a high school freshman. In 2001, the Comanche, Texas native was eventually selected to play regularly for the Johnnie High Country Music Revue in Arlington, Texas.
And the opportunities didn’t stop there.
After winning a singer/songwriter competition in Fort Worth in July, Croff opened for the 95.9 The Ranch Summer Concert Series and caught the eye of the station’s on-air staff. He was nominated for “Newcomer of the Year” at the Gladewater Opry this year and also performed during the East Texas State Fair. In 2002, Croff auditioned for the USA Network show Nashville Star, and he recently auditioned for American Idol.
“I’ve been trying out for the Nashville Star show. That’s something I’ll be trying out for again this year. The first time, I made it to the top 10 auditions in Austin, and then I got cut. After that, it’s not such a big deal to get cut. It didn’t bother me that I got cut from American Idol. That was a trip. It did bother me waiting 15 hours in the hot sun,” Croff laughed.
Since becoming the editor in chief this summer, Croff gives much credit to his staff members.
“It’s an honor to be the editor, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my staff. They are my right and left arm. They’re great,” he said.
The 23-year-old also took the summer to work on an EP music project, complete with six songs. What’s next for the student seeking country music stardom?
“I realized I wasn’t going to get anything off the ground until I got (the EP) done, and I really plan on promoting it more once I’m finished with school,” Croff said. “After I graduate in May I’m going to try and play at more venues.”
And as far as journalism?
“I think it could take me several directions. I might like to write for a music or trade magazine, such as Country Weekly. But I also wouldn’t mind working for a paper as a reporter because I would like that too,” he said.
In the meantime, he’ll continue to belt out both songs and stories.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.