BET Music Matters Tour: Raheem DeVaughn, Elle Varner
124 Market Place
Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
Raheem DeVaughn's story begins with music—his mother's vinyl collection to be exact. "I always loved music so I would sneak into her record collection when she wasn't around and play her stuff," says DeVaughn. Although his parents were not together, his father, noted jazz musician Abdul Wadud, was an influence as well. "Music was just always around me", says DeVaughn. "I can remember at a very young age, standing in my mother's living room, listening to music and saying to myself, 'I'm going to be an entertainer.' It was that simple for me. I think I just always knew."
Elle Varner, born of two published songwriters, spent most of her childhood sleeping on studio couches, running around green rooms, and watching her parents struggle to make a name in the industry. With music running through her veins, Elle was singing as soon as she could speak, playing the flute at 6 and the piano at 9. But it wasn't until her attendance at AGC (Amazing Grace Conservatory) that her ear for harmony, melody and complex rhythm truly developed. At age 16, Elle picked up the guitar for the first time. Frustrated that she wasn't instantly as good as Hendrix, she dropped the guitar and became a part of The Hamilton Academy of Music's Vocal Jazz Group. Once there, she learned about the complexity of the voice, jazz music and talented jazz artists like Ella Fitzgerald. Elle was surprised to discover that she had been chosen to be a part of The Grammy in the Schools Mentoring Program. Through this program she was taken weekly to the Fox Studio, where she met with mentor Kelly Burgos, and President of Fox Music, Robert Kraft. Soon after, Elle hesitantly applied to NYU with her C average and was surprisingly accepted. Not only did she get in, but also she was admitted into the second class of the Clive Davis Program of Recorded Music. Upon graduating, she was awarded "most likely to get signed" and "most likely to win a Grammy." Four years later she finds herself a well-rounded and cultured singer-songwriter.