Justin Rayna is an award-winning percussionist, composer, producer, pianist, performer, dance choreographer, stunt man, acrobat, tumbler, husband and father.
He was born in Texas in 1982 and grew up Pennsylvania. He began tumbling when he was eight years old, inspired by watching West Side Story. He began playing drums at age 11 and taught himself piano when he was in the 8th grade. Justin then became heavily involved in anything with drums: marching, concert and jazz bands; orchestra; musical pits; percussion ensemble; indoor drum line and the Worship Team at his church. He also began recording and independently releasing his own solo piano albums, and he was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in 2000.
When Justin was a high school sophomore, McCaskey color guard members recruited him to play trashcan drums for a tap battle at Encore Dance Center, and this began a decade-long involvement with Encore, as Justin studied different dance disciplines each year. Eventually, he became the acrobatic hip hop instructor at Encore and also a gymnastics instructor at Astra Gymnastics. His primary career for the next eight years was as a coach and instructor.
Justin continued to drum, marching for the Lehigh Valley Knights Division 3 junior drum and bugle corps, then with the Incomparable Golden Rams of West Chester University of Pennsylvania. During this time, he won the Garden State Circuit individual and ensemble competition on snare drum.
In 2007, Justin auditioned and was cast as the lead drummer in the Impact Effect drumming show and the Velocity tumbling show. He played the same roles in both shows for two seasons. Justin was then cast as the lead romantic male in the off-Broadway show STREB.
In 2009, an opportunity led Justin to Tennessee where he became the acrobatic captain and percussion writer for Dolly Parton’s new show Sha-Kon-O-Hey at the Dollywood Celebrity Theater. He was also accepted to the University of Tennessee music theory and composition school with percussion as his performance instrument. His compositions were performed by several ensembles at the University of Tennessee, including the UT Studio Orchestra, the Percussion Ensemble and the Jazz Big Band. At UT, he was in Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society and the Golden Key International Honour Society.
In 2010, he met and later married his wife, dancer and choreographer, Sarita Atiles, in Tennessee. Justin was then given the opportunity to participate in a film stunt boot camp in Louisiana. After attending one stunt class, Justin’s instructors asked him to return to be an assistant coach for the next boot camp. Things were right for Justin to make a move to Louisiana as the film industry grew in the state. Sarita and Justin relocated to Baton Rouge. There, Justin began a career as a stunt man for film and television.
In Baton Rouge, Justin officially established First Key Creations LLC as a vehicle to write and release music for competitive gymnastics, dance, plays, church productions, weddings and instrumentalists. Justin and Sarita wrote their musical, Legend City, which grew to become a non-profit project aimed at giving underprivileged and at-risk youth opportunities to experience and learn the performing arts. In an effort to raise money for Legend City, Justin began to release his multi-album anthology Prolific – Justin Rayna: Unmasked. Volume one of the anthology is INTENSIFY. Four more volumes will follow.
Drawing on a throng of influences, Justin’s music has been compared to David Lanz, John Tesh, Yanni, Israel Houghton, Drum Corps International and Cirque du Soleil. Justin brings an inventive fusion to his music that has a unique voice; one that is truly exciting and imaginative.