IT TOOK A FAILED AUDITION on American Idol for RaVaughn Brown to finally cut a reality check. The R&B songstress—now signed to Ne-Yo’s Compound University label—plucked up the courage to try her chops for the TV singing competition only to be shut down in the first round. “It’s a million people, you’re sitting in the stadium for hours, super-hot and sweaty so I sang,” she recalls. “The judges were like you have a nice voice, but you’re just not ready and I wanted to be like I’m not ready, but I’m singing and traveling with Keri Hilson.”
The Manhattanville College alumni and choir singer has been trying to shine in her own self-made spotlight since shopping demos and providing backup for the likes of Brandy and Natasha Bedingfield. After linking up with a writer named Storm and Sam Waters (former member of Color Me Badd) via MySpace, RaVaughn paved the wax for such hits as Keri Hilson’s “Energy” and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Love Like This.” Now, with a yet-to-be-named debut album in the works, RaVaughn reflects on the struggles that birthed her confidence, inside and out.
VIBE Vixen: So the last time we saw you, your hair was a different color! Why did you change it?
RaVaughn: I get bored really fast, and I’m obsessed with my hair. I like to change it up. I can’t throw it up in a bun ‘cause it’s short, [so it’s either] change the color or add a bang. This is the longest I’ve had short hair. Every time I say I wanna change my hair or get a long weave, everyone’s like, “No, RaVaughn, this is your look!”
Do you have a set fashion look right now?
I actually started working with a stylist, Marcus ,and we kinda found my style together. I incorporated my own personal style with a little high-fashion ‘cause I’ve never really been into name-brand stuff. I’m into leather and I like wearing black [because it] always looks good.
What other physical changes have you made while preparing for the release of your debut album?
I lost 45 pounds, not for the industry but just for me. I saw a picture of myself and was like, This is not okay. I stopped eating fried foods, and I got back on an exercise regimen just to feel good about myself and feel comfortable in what I’m in.
What kind of brands do you go to to help with that problem?
Yeah, where do we go to, Marcus? (laughs)
Marcus: Right now, her jacket is Malandrino. Her lace piece is American Apparel and the skirt is Urban Outfitters.
How did meeting Ne-Yo come about?
A producer that I worked with called me in to do a demo, and he didn’t tell me who the writer was. I went and it was Ne-Yo. Writing with Ne-Yo, who is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation right now, I felt like these people know what they’re doing, so I want to follow in their footsteps to greatness.