San Jac Certified: Audio Engineering Alum finds success in music

10.17.2017 | By Melissa Trevizo

HOUSTON – Growing up, Donald Johnson always knew he wanted to be a musician. He trained as a percussionist through the music program at C.E. King High School and performed at church, but was unsure how to translate that into a career.

Then, he discovered the San Jacinto College audio engineering program.

“When I learned about audio engineering and what it entails, I was immediately interested,” Johnson said. “I explored education options in and out of state, but they had waiting lists or weren’t what I was looking for. I checked out San Jacinto College and knew that it was right for me.”

His training through the College’s Central Campus, put his career on the pathway to success. In 2011, Johnson along with his partner Kenneth Roy under their production company Beanz N Kornbread were awarded best producer by the Houston Press. Additionally, they were named best producer of the year in 2014 and 2015 by the Zydeco, Blues and Trailride Awards.

“I really appreciate the education I received at San Jac,” Johnson said. “My instructors James Metcalfe and Randy Snyder really helped me understand how it all worked. I refer to what I learned from them every day.”

Throughout his career, Johnson has worked with notable Houston artists such as Z-Ro, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall and Slim Thug as well as George Clinton, Shaquille O’Neal and Mac Miller. These days much of Johnson’s time is spent travelling with his band Khruangbin, touring Europe in 2016 and currently playing in venues across the U.S.

“We spend a lot of time playing and doing shows,” Johnson said. “We’ve travelled all over the world. We formed in 2010 and things started to take off after we put out our first album, The Universe Smiles Upon You, in 2015.”

Johnson is the drummer of the trio, who take their influence from “1960’s Thai funk and are steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool.”

Working in the music industry in his hometown has been a dream come true for Johnson, who offers advice to those who wish to follow in his path.

“Study as much as you can in and out of the classroom,” Johnson said. “We live in an information age and so much is at your fingertips. If you love music and want to work in this industry I encourage you to pursue audio engineering, it can open doors for you.”

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.