LONG BEACH, CA – California State University, Long Beach has produced a number of notable and award-winning artists like Richard and Karen Carpenter, the sibling duo of the Carpenters, and VJ Rosales, the founding member of the acappella group, The Filharmonic. Now, other musical prodigies are emerging from CSULB hoping for a similar musical fate.
Dakota Noxon, 24, unexpectedly became infatuated with the jazz genre in college and is now pursuing his master’s degree in Jazz Studies. He is one of the vocal standouts in the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.
He is also a member of the jazz ensemble, Pacific Standard Time. Aside from his academics, Noxon is also a part of the Joey Naz Band, but also creates his own solo music. He currently has a song out on all streaming platforms titled, “Stay” which he wrote, recorded and produced all by himself.
The graduate student pulls inspiration from artists like Allen Stone and Madison Cunningham.
“I love that kind of music a lot, so primarily, I’d say that I’m more focused on singer-songwriter stuff, but I’m trying to write a little bit more R&B kind of stuff as well,” he said.
Noxon may be releasing a new project at the end of November with the fitting title, “November Moon,” which has been in the works since November of last year. He challenged himself to write one song every day and ended up writing around 20 songs. About eight songs from his music challenge will be included in his upcoming project and he’s already performed some of them for his composition recital last spring. The concept of the work will resemble that of a journal entry over different days.
Noxon is well-rounded in his musical endeavors, but also his goals. He wants to dabble in different avenues such as writing for TV and film, entering into session work, teaching at the college level and continuing to create his own music.
Singer and musician, Cyrus Payne, 24, is another talented artist currently studying at CSULB. He is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a choral emphasis. Payne is a member of the singing group, Jazz & Tonic where he is notorious for his energetic stage presence and scatting abilities. Scatting is when jazz singers emulate sounds with their voices rather than an instrument.
His ultimate music inspiration is his mother who taught him how to sing when he was a child. He also pulls inspiration from a variety of artists such as Thundercat, Stevie Wonder and Daron Malakian, the guitarist for System of a Down. Payne’s positive attitude toward music carries over into his non-academic projects.
“I like to write pop songs and stuff and I like making catchy stuff,” he said. “I think that’s really fun, just writing things that stick in my own head and stick in other people’s heads. I try my hardest to come up with catchy melodies.”
He estimates that he has about 100 jams he’s made since he was 16 years old. As of now, he has one released song titled, “Spiderman” which includes a collaboration with another artist. Payne notes that he has a finished album that has yet to be released.
Along with singing, he also plays other instruments, primarily the bass guitar. In high school, he sang in church and also joined a punk rock band and played a plethora of gigs. This was a turning point in his melodic journey as he realized that he could be a legit musician.
He continues to play gigs as a bass guitarist. Payne has also sung on a Disney project.
Sustainability is key to the musician and he is excited to embark on various musical routes. In the future he sees himself teaching middle school students and conducting session work.
Music major Davon DeBerry-Martin, 24, is using his education at CSULB to pursue a solo singing career. Prior to CSULB, he attended Oakland School for the Arts for middle school, and it made a lasting impact on him.
“It was my first time being around a bunch of talent in terms of ‘Oh wow, this person’s really good too,’ like it’s not normal to be exceptional at a certain thing,” he said. “…It was just like, there is so much out there, and it is inspiring.”
DeBerry-Martin looks up to the artists that have emerged from Oakland like R&B singer Kehlani who also attended Oakland School for the Arts. After middle school, he attended public school and got involved in music programs. He sang in two ensembles – “Divine Voices” and “Show Choir.” Coming to CSULB, he joined the jazz group, Corner Pocket for the Spring 2021 semester.
He loves performing and remembers the first moment he experienced its powerful effect.
“I was singing for a Christmas concert when I was in high school and I sang This Christmas by Donny Hathaway and the crowd got up and they were waving their hands and I was like, ‘Oh, you know, this is kind of dope,’ and it was a big audience,” he said.
DeBerry-Martin sings under the name, Twelveround$ and is featured on the song, “Forlorn” by iraya. He is working on his own R&B and alternative music that he writes and records himself.
On October 28, Cyrus Payne and Davon DeBerry-Martin performed at the Graveyard Jams event. Talented musicians and singers who live in the Long Beach area took the stage. DeBerry-Martin sang his unreleased song “Pray For Me” for the first time along with other tunes like a cover of the song “Misunderstood” by Lucky Daye. Payne sang and played bass. He even played bass for DeBerry-Martin’s performance.
By Laila Freeman