On September 23rd, 1949, working class parents Adele and Joseph welcomed their son, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen to their family. Springsteen grew up in Freehold Borough, NJ and attended Freehold Borough High School where he was on the debate team. Springsteen says he most enjoyed his English classes and those activities, like debate, that promoted writing and creative expression. His ability to communicate honestly, poetically, and persuasively helped make his mark on society.
By the age of 16, Springsteen had a gig with the band, The Castiles, a short-lived rock group that served as the springboard for Springsteen’s career. Early on, Springsteen knew the road he needed to take to success. In a 2016 NPR story Springsteen said, “I looked at myself, and I just said, 'Well, you know, I can sing, but I'm not the greatest singer in the world. I can play guitar very well, but I'm not the greatest guitar player in the world.' So I said, 'Well, if I'm going to project an individuality, it's going to have to be in my writing.'”
Springsteen wrote about every day struggles he saw in his community. He had a way of connecting with his audience through his lyrics. Today, Springsteen is considered one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 20th century. He has sold more than 120 million records worldwide and accrued top honors including Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, VMA, and Critics Choice Awards.
In addition to his musical commentary of society, Springsteen dedicates his time and money to help those in need. He established the Thrill Hill Foundation, which aids victims of domestic violence, at-risk teens, and low-income community members. He also supports the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, as well as local New Jersey causes.
While little has been written on the influence debate had on Springsteen’s career, there are few other organizations that offer students an opportunity for growth and personal development in critical thinking, communication, and self-esteem. Learn how you can get involved with your local debate team! You never know where it will take you.