As a member of Miley’s Cyrus’ Record-Breaking World Tour, Vashon is no stranger to The Big Stage or success. Discovering his profound love of music at an early age, Vashon began taking formal training in classical piano and continued over a span of eight years. His musical prowess developed quickly and steadily. At 10 years old, Vashon was a trombone player by position in his grade school band, but he was a bass player at heart... He literally pleaded with the band director for a chance to play the bass... After some rapid-fire progress, shortly after entering The Award-Winning Gwendolyn Brooks Junior High School Band, Vashon continued to hone his craft - excelling in music performance and theory. He was the recipient of several “Outstanding Performer” awards and played in numerous Illinois All-State Music Ensembles.
After graduating from High School, Vashon connected with one of his friends who had a gig with the legendary Jazz Singer Betty Carter. Betty had a rep for graciously affording young artists an opportunity to prove they “had what it takes to make it”. With a spirit reminiscent of his plea to the band director a few years prior, Vashon vigorously petitioned Betty for his chance on stage with her. Evidently this impressed Betty, as she called him up from the audience to play in her showcase, saying “Honey you gotta speak up if you want to be a star!” Afterwards she extended him an invitation to join her band (the youngest of them all) on a European tour. All in all it turned into a fascinating 2 year excursion, for which Vashon credits a significant amount of his musical maturity. “It was a life changing experience in many ways. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was evolving into a very “complete musician”.
He came to realize that even a complete musician is always evolving—there’s always a new horizon to ascend. He sought another level of challenge and it came in the form of college study at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. This opened up a whole new musical (as well as academic) curriculum to Vashon. On a music scholarship he enrolled in a variety of music genres: Zydeco, New Orleans style blues and grassroots music. With all of these influences in the mix, Vashon was prompted to explore another musical realm. Back to his roots, he returned to Chicago for a brief stint; regrouped; then found himself packing for New York City. With an “if I can make it there I can make it anywhere” mission on his mind, Vashon viewed New York as the “embodiment of everything I wanted to do or could do—jazz, hip-hop, R&B—anything and everything was possible within this “cultural Mecca”
So he moved to Manhattan where he quickly began to turn industry ears with his solid command and feel of his instruments, his versatility and creativity. Just a few weeks after he arrived in the city, like a bit of Broadway magic, he was asked to play for the hit Broadway Musical: The Lion King. He gradually became first call for that production, and subsequently for another hit musical: The Boy From Oz, starring Hugh Jackman. In a meteoric burst, Vashon was soon sharing the stage with such artists as Dianne Reeves, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Donald Fagen, Carly Simon, Greg Osby, Shawn Pelton, Patti LaBelle, Carla Cook, Shania Twain, Stephanie Mills, Deborah Cox, CL Smooth, B.B. King, Philippe Saisse and Marc Antoine, Jessica Simpson and Boyz II Men. Vashon’s other credits include performing bass examples for Vic Firth’s- Tommy Igoe Modern Drum Techniques, which is now the number one selling drum instructional method!
When asked to describe his playing style he says “I like to ‘disappear’ into the music…like a chameleon.” Either way, he’s an accomplished artist whether playing on upright, electric or synth basses. “I find it a great compliment when I’m playing (one) and someone tells me “I didn’t know you played (the other).” Rather soft-spoken and cerebral by nature, Vashon uses his instruments to express alternative personae. “They’re all different instruments and when I play them, I feel like different personalities. I approach each one differently”. Vashon bears a coy smile, recounting when one asked him, “Did you choose music or did music choose you?” He’s determined to prove that music indeed chose him.
Vashon currently resides in Los Angeles where he’s thrilled to be working on his next big achievement, whatever that may be!
Stayed tuned for Vashon Johnson’s forthcoming debut solo project. Meanwhile, check out his recent video appearances with Artists such as Miley Cyrus and Natasha Bedingfield.