Bio: Robbie Stilwell


Robbie Stilwell


Photo Journalism ’15

I know why you’re here, you saw my picture and thought, wow, that is one dashing individual, I bet there’s more to this guy than some gorgeous hair and a perfect rump. Well guess what. You’re damn right there is.

I’m a more-than-skinny white boy from the wonderfully-melancholy town of Albion, New York. I have stunning green-blue eyes, just never look at them, I have a lazy eye, and I know you’re judging me for it. My spirit animal is a Coal Miner. I secretly want to drop out of college to become a sailor (I wanna work the crow’s nest). I love to sit quietly in my dorm at night, reading the latest issue of Redbook, sipping on an ice cold ginger ale (Vernor’s, I ain’t cheap). And I enjoy using the word “Crass” in conversation.

As a child, I asked myself, what do I want to do as an adult? I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to change the world. And what do I do you ask? I’m a photo student. Why am I in BCS? Well, it’s quite the tale, friends. Growing up in the town of Albion, New York, I had only one source of joy: Playing the fiddle. That fiddle and I would entertain audiences all across Western New York. Was it the fame that brought me joy? Was it the money? Was it the week that I was married to Ashley Olsen? The answer to that riddle, my friend, is: none of the above. What brought me joy was sitting down every night, and writing out new music for my trillions of fans. I could write out 20 new songs in one night, and that’s if I was exhausted from a hard day of chimney-sweeping. My hands worked faster than my brain, they had minds of their own when it came to the fiddle. Eventually, I didn’t need to think, my hands did all the thinking, all the work. I’d get on stage, and my mind would go numb, but my hands would play symphonies. I was truly the greatest fiddle player in all the land.

And then, like it always does, tragedy struck. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I was deep in the forest, tracking a rare albino peacock, which had been plaguing my dominion for months. I had decided enough was enough, and set out with only a musket, because how else would someone go hunting for a prize of that stature? My musket was loaded, and I was sure I was on the peacock’s tail, when suddenly; I get struck, hard, in the head with a boulder. Dizzy, I drop my firearm, trying hard to regain my balance, when I see that the peacock has my musket.

“I’ll kill you eventually, peacock” I say
“Not today, you won’t” he says back

I leap forward, trying to grab the musket, and he pulls the trigger, my left hand directly in the line-of-fire. My fiddle hand, destroyed. I looked up, and just as soon as it had came, the peacock had vanished. I stumbled, out of the forest, hopped on my Huffy, and made my way to the nearest hospital. The surgeons worked for weeks on my hand, making it look the way it once did. I was later informed that I would never be able to play the fiddle again.

I fell into a deep depression, what would I do now that the only thing I had to bring me happiness was gone? I locked myself in my bedroom for months, only leaving so that I could make my valedictorian speech at my High School Graduation. Eventually, Geoff Symonds told me that I needed to come over to his house; he missed me, and hadn’t seen me in a long time. He asked what the cause of my depression was, and I told him the tale. He understood my pain, shedding a tear, he told me what brought him joy when his fiddle hand was destroyed. He pulled up a Youtube clip of an A Capella group called “Brick City Singers”. I thought “Ugh, Lame”. But then, the music started, their voices taking a well-
known song, and completely transforming it into something of their own. For the first time in months, I felt joy in my heart. I asked Geoff why he showed me the video, and he said “Because I’m totes the new music director of that group, back at RIT, and you’re gonna go there next year and join the group”. It was then that I realized that somewhere deep in my pile of college acceptance letters, there was a letter from RIT, my choice was clear, I wasn’t going to study Biochemistry at MIT, I was going to RIT, to join The Brick City Singers.

I went into auditions with my head held high. I watched semi-nervously, I knew BCS would be extremely picky. When I was called up to sing, I gave it my all, I imagined my voice as a fiddle, creating beautiful music. When it was over, no one seemed impressed. I felt a single tear fall down my cheek as I walked away, when suddenly I hear from behind me “Hey, kid”. I turn around to see Jon Lavalley standing there, holding a beautiful, floral patterned Hawaiian shirt. “Catch” he says, as he tosses the silky garment to me. They picked me, out of thousands of auditionees. I had been accepted. Suddenly, I felt joy again, I no longer needed the fiddle to be happy. I had something else. I had an a capella group.

What do I do nowadays? I sing with my BCS boys, make the ladies swoon over my voice, and work out several hours a day to keep my body in its Adonis-like condition. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.