Student Profile: Justin Vaughn


Adnan Ramic

“Justin already came to the college with a good voice. He’s matured a lot. A male’s voice doesn’t stop maturing until their 40s,” Hughes said.

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While some people are doing their best to become the next big DJ or rapper, Justin Vaughn is concentrating on opera.

American River College is home to many talented students, and one of them is Vaughn. He is a music major focused in voice, an ARC Choir member, and wants to start his own choir and become a conductor. Choir wasn’t something he realized he wanted to do until about eighth grade.

“It inspires me to be able to bring peace to other people through music,” Vaughn said.

Sixteen years ago, he began his career singing in choirs before moving on to solo performances four years ago. This is his fourth year at ARC. His first two years he studied psychology.

“My entire family has been very supportive, actually. We’re a very music oriented family. We love music of all kinds.” Vaughn said.

Vaughn says he was involved with the choirs here while pursuing psychology. One of the instructional assistants from the music department convinced him to consider becoming a music major. It made sense to him because he was already spending most of his time in the music department and was halfway done with his music degree.

With two friends in the ARC choir who support his every step, Vaughn feels confident in his future since they are always inspiring each other. At the end of the day his mother is his biggest fan, supporter, and hero. Not all moms get to be proud of what their children do in life as they grow up.

“It’s like watching a mini-me,” Choir Instructor Ralph Hughes said. Vaughn likes to conduct the class and teaches students while Hughes isn’t around.

Hughes believes his teaching can be harsh to certain students at times, but it is above all encouraging and he believes that students like Vaughn have endless potential.

“My dad sings, so I would sing around the house with him when I was little,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn has performed places like Romano’s Macaroni Grill and says that crowds sometimes cry after hearing his voice. Not only do strangers cry, but his aunt cries every time he performs.

“I think he’s a very good leader,” composition major David Taylor said.

Taylor met Vaughn this Spring Semester in class because he is new to the choir program after recently switching from commercial music.

“I know that Justin is very good at conducting. Sometimes when Hughes isn’t here, he’ll conduct us,” Taylor said. “He’s very expressive in the way he conducts, so that helps us come together as a choir and be unified.”

Taylor says that Vaughn has helped him understand the tone of choral music because Taylor has never sung choral music to being with.

“He’s really had a strong hand in helping me understand the unity of tone required for choral music,” Taylor said. “I think that the rest of the choir respects him in that way as a leader, which is really cool.”

Hughes wants his students to “show human spirit” and only wants to push his students to be the best because they’re one of the better choir groups in Northern California.

Justin Vaughn practices vocals from the piece “Dalla Sua Pace” by Mozart with Ralph Hughes playing on the piano.

Hughes’ students take their time to understand the songs, even if they’re from different cultures or religions. The students sing it to honor the intent of the song

“I love being able to share, just share music. It’s such an expressive art form. There’s a lot of emotions and a lot of feelings that can’t be communicated, in my opinion, unless through music — through singing,” Vaughn said.