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RaVaughn: Ne-Yo’s gorgeous protegee has sincerity and star power (photos)

ravaughn

RaVaughn’s musical story has several amazing twists and turns. The California girl showed an aptitude for music very early on; she would stage performances for her parents in their home in Carson, CA. “I would make my parents sit in the living room and listen to me sing songs that I was writing at four years old!” she says, laughing. Years later, she joined Wendy Raquel Robinson’s Amazing Grace Conservatory as a precocious nine-year old, and she thrived in the arts-and-performance-minded environment. “I was there from nine until I graduated high school [and] it was acting, singing and dancing,” she recalls. “I was Dorothy in The Wiz when I was nine.”

A successful run as a contestant on Showtime At the Apollo followed, with the future star flying to New York City with her family (“Grandparents, aunts, uncles—everybody came”), and she won the competition twice.

Back in L.A., she quickly became one of the most sought-after session vocalists on the west coast. RaVaughn laid down backing vocals for everyone from Celine Dion to Jennifer Hudson and recorded vocal tracks for the hit FOX series “Glee.” Then, fate gave her career the jump-start she was waiting for.

“I used to do demos for everybody in L.A.: Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Rodney Jerkins–every producer and writer that was in L.A. at the time,” says RaVaughn. “I was leaving a ‘Glee’ session and I was really tired, we’d been working all day. I got a text from a producer asking me to come do a demo. In my mind I was ready for the bed. But he was like ‘I need you to come in.’ I asked ‘Can we do it tomorrow?’ and he said ‘the writer won’t be here tomorrow.’”

She begrudgingly drove to the studio and was stunned when she walked in to see a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter waiting there. “There was Ne-Yo,” she says, her voice still hushed with slight disbelief. “I was like ‘You could’ve told me that Ne-Yo was the writer!’” The R&B star immediately made RaVaughn feel like she was an old friend, and he was blown away by her talent. “He was like ‘Your voice is crazy. You’re incredible.’ He took my number. Before I got in my car after the end of the session, he texted me. I was like ‘Wow , he’s serious.’”

“He sent me another text message like ‘What’s your problem? Are you crazy or a psycho? What’s your issue? You work with all these writers and producers and everybody knows you in L.A. but you’re not signed so there has to be something wrong with you,’” she shares. After convincing Ne-Yo that she wasn’t crazy, he flew her to Atlanta to work on more material and hone her sound under the guidance of his Compound University imprint. “I stayed there for three weeks and we recorded songs,” RaVaughn says. “Six months later, I signed to Columbia. Once I met Ne-Yo, everything just happened back-to-back.”

RaVaughn’s career is on the upswing–with her singles “Better Be Good” and “Best Friend” building anticipation for her album. Citing Lauryn Hill as a major influence, she says that she wants to make sincere, honest music. “The thing that I loved so much about [Lauryn] is that I believed everything she was talking about. That’s what’s so important to me. It’s different when you’re talking about something you actually went through.”

And RaVaughn wants the people to understand and appreciate her honesty.

“[I’m not] afraid to talk about things people really go through,” she says. “I’m not afraid of telling my business; I’ve lied. I’ve broken somebody’s heart and I’ve had my heart broken. People forget that artists are people, too.”

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