By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Violist Dawn Johnson was born and raised in Miami and is part of a trio called ‘The String Queens’ in Washington D.C.

They are teachers by day and classical music performers by night.

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“As a well-rounded musician, you teach and you perform. It’s not either/or, they complement one another to make you a better musician,” Johnson explained.

Johnson grew up in Liberty City and attended Charles Drew Elementary School, which she credits for having a very robust performing arts community.

Her parents worked hard to provide exposure and opportunity through the arts to her and her sister.

“We completely immersed ourselves in rehearsals and performances, making sure we were a part of a community youth orchestra. I grew up in the South Florida Symphony and Florida Youth Orchestra.”

As a young violinist, she recalls the pivotal moment, when a teacher guided her to the viola, which would become an extension of her.

“I remember my first teacher Judy Frishman, a most well-known violin teacher in Miami, placed the viola in my hands and she said, ‘Trust me, this is going to be your instrument- this is better suited for you,’ and I was twelve years old, and I’ve never looked back.”

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Johnson went on to New World School of the Arts, graduated from Julliard, and became an orchestra teacher.

In 2018 the unique collaboration with fellow teachers began – Kendall Isadore on violin and Elise Sharp on the cello.

“We haven’t seen another group that sounds like us or looks like us,” Johnson claimed.

Their diverse repertoire spans both genres and eras. They have performed in famous venues and were featured in the Biden/Harris inauguration “We Are One Celebration.”

It is music meant to move people and mountains.

“We are doing our part to cultivate and nurture the next generation of performers particularly that look like us, who you don’t necessarily see in classical music,” she stated adding that 1.8 percent of people in symphony orchestras now are African American or minority.”

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For more on The String Queens, visit their website here.

Lauren Pastrana