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How ZiL’s passion for music helped him become Christian showcase winner

Though the Curb Event Center couldn’t be packed with students for the Christian Showcase this year, the show continued on when the livestream aired Jan. 30.

Students Cooper Carr, Titus Cody, Delaney Ramsdell and ZiL all took the audience-less Curb stage and gave it their all, regardless of the circumstances — and ZiL ultimately won over the judges, overtaking the competition with his single, “Victorious.”

But ZiL — a senior audio engineering major and Christian hip hop artist named Zachary Vaughn — matches his ambition pound-for-pound with an unpretentious love of music.

And when he’s not performing, ZiL can be found in his room with LED lights on and a cup of tea songwriting into a notebook — the old fashioned way.

“I think it’s more productive when my phone is off and away and I’m just listening to the music and writing down with a pencil,” he said.

ZiL’s musical journey began in fourth grade, the first year students at his school in Rochester, NY were allowed to play in the band. He took his talents for saxophone to piano before later getting into production.

“I like to classify my production style as more musical, kind of chord based and harmony based rather than sample based,” said ZiL.

Since living in Nashville, ZiL has been able to explore the craft of different artists and soak in the creativity the city has to offer.

“It’s opened up my music palette, meeting other people in different genres and other creatives,” he said.

After Belmont, ZiL looks forward to creating more music independently and for other artists.

“I’ve always had a dream that I would have a studio in my basement,” said ZiL. “I also would like to do freelance work where I’m producing and engineering for other artists, and maybe even one day running my own label.”

Catch ZiL again in the Best of the Best Showcase — the dates for which have yet to be announced.

This article written by Sarah Crawford.

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