Dannon Johnson got her first guitar at the tender age of nine after winning a bet with her Dad that she could learn to play Black Sabbath’s The Wizard on harmonica. Today, the Mary Pappert School of Music senior is prepared to make her mark and open doors for other women in the recording industry.

“I want to be the first female to win the Grammy award for Producer of the Year,” Dannon confidently says, referring to a field in which online recruiter Zippia estimates more than 92% of sound/audio engineers are men. “Being a woman in what I do is something I am incredibly passionate about.”
Dannon, who graduates in May with a Bachelor of Music in Sound Recording and a certificate in business management, doesn’t allow the profession’s statistics to impede her focus.
“It’s one of those fields where, unless you see someone that looks like you, you may not know that you can do this,” Dannon said. “I never really saw that women were doing this work, but it didn’t bother me. It’s something I’m open and honest about because if someone sees me doing it, they may feel that they can get into the field too. I want to show people that these doors are open!”
She got her feet wet as a producer and engineer after converting a basement bedroom at her parents’ house to her own studio.

Dannon Johnson at Guffy Cam Studios
Dannon at Guffy Cam Studios

 “When I was 14, Guffy Cam Studios was born, and I fell in love with recording,” she explained. 
Soon after, success producing and releasing records led Dannon to make the wise decision to become an LLC (Limited Liability Company) to protect her name and her work. 
It was an internship with Duquesne Assistant Music Technology Professor Jesse Naus—who trusted in her potential and took the time to mentor her—that drew Dannon to the School of Music. 
“I sat in on some classes and soon I realized that these people were not only kind and welcoming, but also interested in being my friend,” she said. “I remember two women in the class exclaiming, ‘Another woman in audio!’ It was great—I loved it, and it’s that kind of inclusivity and that type of feeling that has kept me here for four years.”
A School of Music Student Ambassador, Dannon co-founded the Diversity in Audio Club, was vice president of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) chapter and attended both the AES national conference and the National Association of Music Merchants Convention.
Dannon Johnson at the NAMM Convention
Dannon Johnson and fellow students at the NAMM Convention.

Dannon’s Duquesne experience has connected her with life-changing people and opportunities—enabling her to build a professional path with purpose. As a four-year member and campus ambassador for GRAMMY U, she connected with Pittsburgh-based, Emmy award-winning rapper Frzy with whom she produced and appeared in a TikTok promo for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. He also invited her to do the onstage audio for his recent performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
As for students considering studying music—and for parents who aren’t sure a career is feasible—Dannon advises them to apply and invest in themselves and the career and work will come to you.
“There is so much opportunity in this industry that I think goes unseen, because a lot of what sound engineers do is behind the scenes,” she said. “Our goal is to go unnoticed at a show. Duquesne has me feeling that I’m prepared for basically anything. I have that skill set, but I also have the interpersonal skills that have come out of networking through this program and the connections I’ve made in the School of Music and beyond.”
Dannon will hit the road after graduation, visiting and connecting with contacts and friends she’s made during her time at Duquesne to determine where she’ll settle and begin her career.

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