By Melissa Libbey
Asia Samson steps onto the hardwood floor in front of the cranberry backdrop in Rider University’s Pub. With his black leather jacket and military boots, he comes off as having a hard exterior. He takes off his jacket, revealing the tattoos that run down his arms. All preconceived notions are stripped away, however, when he speaks into the microphone.
He starts off with a poem entitled, “Breathe.” As soon as he starts to speak, the audience is drawn in. Samson, 34, then sits down and begins to play the guitar, his black hat matching with his brother-in-law, Jollan Aurelio, sitting next to him.
After his first poem, Samson says, “nothing happens by accident.”
The Asia Project is a performance by slam poet, Samson, accompanied by Aurelio. Together they travel cross-country, sharing their message to a variety of different college campuses.
The pair visited on Tuesday for a Student Entertainment Council-sponsored event, part of the Project Bleed Tour.
The tour kicked off in the beginning of the school year and is expected to last six months, visiting 130 colleges.
Samson began getting serious about his poetry five years ago, after a battle with cancer. He credits writing poetry as the reason he has been in remission ever since.
Though his passion is poetry, Samson jokes that he would easily give up poetry to write music.
“I can’t carry a tune, [but] Rock stars get all the love,” he said.
However, Samson realizes that what he and Aurelio have is special.
“When people see us do poetry with music, we kill. It’s like nothing else.”
In a recent interview, Samson talked about the impact The Asia Project has had on its fans. While at Winthrop University, he received a letter from one of the advisers running the event.
“One of the students wrote a letter to the Dean saying that our performance was life changing [and that] he was more interested in getting good grades and got more serious about being in college” because of the performance, Samson said.
The Asia Project shows its gratitude to its fans by tweeting, updating its Facebook page and taking the time to reply to Facebook comments. It also takes time after every performance to talk to fans, answer questions and pose for pictures.
The tour will end in the spring, but that will not be the end for Samson. In the future, he hopes to do a one-man show, putting more of the focus on his storytelling rather than poetry.
“Basically it’s a one-person play and it’s me telling the story of my life . . . I want it to be dramatic, that’s my next step,” he said.
Eventually he sees himself on the biggest stage of all, Broadway, using music to become more of an entertainer.
“That’s a big ticket to try to fill but that’s pretty much what I want to do,” Samson said. “The number one question in my life is, ‘what am I going to do next?’”