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Fall 2009 - Seed

Destination Purdue > Fall 2009 - Seed

Destination Career is a series profiling recent Purdue Agriculture graduates.
For more alumni stories, visit our Destination Career archive.

Singing seed salesman harmonizes careers

By Amanda Lucas

Alexis Fincher

Photo provided by Levi Riggs

When Levi Riggs, a 2007 agricultural economics graduate, isn't just a full-time seed salesman for Syngenta; he also is a singer-songwriter who records and performs around Indiana.

Levi Riggs is a full-time seed salesman, but he sings a different tune in his free time.

When he's not working for Syngenta, Riggs, who earned his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Purdue in 2007, is a singer-songwriter. He's confident of success in the music industry, and he said it helps that his company supports his music career by inviting him to perform at company meetings and seminars.

And after giving potential customers a seed presentation, he often sows future fans by giving them one of his CDs. "Having two careers is tough," Riggs said. "I never really have any downtime." The seed business focuses on making sales in the winter, so during those months Riggs treks across west-central Indiana for Syngenta.

But he stays warm by writing songs and recording in his newly-installed home studio. "I want to be a polished producer and sound engineer who not only masters the live performance, but who can also reproduce it in a studio," Riggs said.

Travels of an aspiring musician
By Amanda Lucas

Levi Riggs dreams of becoming a famous musician and traveling around the world. Already, the 2007 agricultural economics graduate has the traveling part down pat. He's been all over the United States and has sung around the world.

As a Purdue student, the Glee Club took him many places, including Scotland, Ireland and Washington, D.C. His favorite place was Ireland, where he sang at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. He said Ireland is the most beautiful country he's performed in, although the weather is unpredictable. "One minute it's pouring rain, and the next minute the sun is shining on you," Riggs laughed.

While the weather may be unpredictable, the people are not. Riggs said the people in Ireland are the friendliest he's ever met. Riggs also travelled with the Glee Club to Washington, D.C., to sing at President Bush's second inauguration and took a private tour of the White House. He also sang at the Indiana Inaugural Ball and met many key players in Indiana government.

"It's just fun to sit around and listen to stories that those guys tell from their experiences in the music business. It makes me keep dreaming big," Riggs said.

Find out more:

Purdue Agricultural Economics
Purdue Music Organizations
Levi Riggs Music

In the summer, when farmers are out tending fields, Riggs performs around the state. "He lights up the room when he performs," said Malachi Jaggers, who helped Riggs record his album. "He connects with people and puts a lot of energy into his performance, and a lot of emotion."

Networking and relationships, essential in sales, are key factors in the music business, too, Riggs said. In addition to his solo singing career, Riggs performs with The Overtones, a gospel group that recently recorded an album in Nashville. "I really like singing tight harmony," Riggs said. "When you lock chords with four voices, it can be really cool."

When an audience sees Riggs today with his faded blue jeans, acoustic guitar and bright smile, they probably can't imagine he was once nervous about performing. His first big performance was with the Purdue Glee Club. Before the curtain opened in front of 6,000 people at Purdue's Elliot Hall of Music, Riggs said he felt some jitters. Now, stage fright is a distant memory.

"I can never go to a concert and watch other people perform," said Riggs. "To me, all the fun happens on stage. "It's just a rush and it's where I feel at home."

When asked about either career, Riggs' passion and excitement shine through. He said his music and sales careers both rely on some simple advice. "Pick the right people and you'll be successful with their help," he said.

Riggs' business savvy also helps him with his music. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes with band members, producers, promoters and album cover designers. He also works on marketing, business plans and publicity photos. He said his experience with Syngenta helps him understand how to juggle all these things.

"He has a drive, a very perservering attitude. He has a passion for what he does," Jaggers said. That drive is important. Riggs said he is always challenging himself to become a better singer, songwriter, guitar player and producer.

"I have respect for the time and effort it takes to produce a professional-level record, as well as an entertaining live show. I love a challenge and always envision success before it is realized," Riggs said.

He believes it is much easier to get noticed with MySpace and Facebook, although he finds it funny that his music is being played on Swedish radio.

"The full-time job keeps me grounded in a normal person's routine, but the music takes me places that most people will never see," Riggs said. When asked how he balances it all, Riggs laughs and says that eight hours of sleep is enough to keep him on the road.