RIVER NORTH — Jeremy Gentry certainly knows "Style."
Gentry's covers of the Taylor Swift hit and "Into You" by Ariana Grande won him a year's rent as "Musician-In-Residence" at the Exhibit on Superior, a new apartment tower at 165 W. Superior St.
Gentry, a senior music student at Columbia College Chicago, beat out three other artists last week to win a year of rent-free living in the new River North tower, where rents start at nearly $1,700 a month. As the building's live-in musician, Gentry will be tasked with playing songs for the tower's tenants.
"It's a lot better than hanging out in my mom and dad's basement," said Gentry, 21.
Gentry's audition video. [YouTube]
A live-in musician is the latest amenity in the competition among new apartment towers Downtown. Developers have graduated beyond building pools and gyms to offer perks such as "guest suites" and house dogs to entice well-heeled tenants amid a record pace of apartment construction.
Gentry is the first live-in musician at a building built by Chicago-based Magellan Development Group, which also is hosting auditions for a live-in artist in Nashville.
“Music is something that drives people to come together and to celebrate, David Carlins, Magellan Developent's president, said in a statement. “We’ve been so thrilled by the unbelievable response to this program and we hope to continue to look for ways to bolster the arts community in Chicago and beyond.”
Gentry will live for the next year in a fully furnished 22nd-floor studio apartment looking east over the tower's pool, he said. Gentry is graduating from Columbia next month and would have moved back in with his parents if he didn't win Magellan's live-in musician contest.
As "Musician-In-Residence," Gentry will be responsible for playing 30 hours a month, or about eight hours a week, for Exhibit residents in common areas such as the pool or lounge. He'll play his own compositions and also take requests.
"I'll play songs that not only I like, but hopefully songs they like," Gentry said.
Gentry grew up in suburban Schaumburg, where his parents listened to "everything" and got Gentry into piano at a young age.
But Gentry didn't know he could sing until he auditioned for "The Wizard of Oz" his sophomore year of high school and was cast as the Scarecrow. Gentry later enrolled at Columbia, where teachers told him he had a knack for writing catchy pop tunes.
Gentry taught himself how to play guitar, bass and drums, among other instruments. He auditioned for "The Voice" on NBC last year and plays in the dueling piano show at River North haunt Howl at the Moon.
Gentry and three other finalists played for a panel of celebrity judges who declared the winning live-in musician. The judges were former "Voice" contestant Austin Ellis, Brandt Bronico of the Chicago Fire soccer club, Rob Lindquist of songwriting startup Songfinch and Kelly Rizzo of the "Eat Travel Rock" web series.
Gentry hopes to write more music during his year-long residency, and isn't quite sure yet what he'll do once it's over. But he's glad to doesn't have to worry about one big thing: his housing.
The tower "is definitely the nicest place I've ever lived," Gentry said.
The 298-unit, 34-floor Exhibit on Superior opened in January. Magellan Development pegged the building's cost at $113 million.
Gentry covers "Into You" by Ariana Grande to win a year's free rent at the tower. [Provided]