The song title that suits this multi-talented music man’s life
As a young man, Ron Austin’s dad stressed to him the importance of not limiting himself: “I remember my dad telling me, ‘You don’t have to do just one thing, you can do anything that interests you.’ So I’ve always kept that in mind and I’ve never wanted to limit myself as far as what stimulated my mental process.” It’s advice that he has taken to heart on a life journey that recently landed him in Utah.
Austin comes from Tucson, Arizona where he was born and raised. His parents came from Mississippi and that “southern hospitality” he was brought up with is apparent in the manners that accompany his baritone speaking voice.
Music has been a central theme in Austin’s life. He began playing the trombone in fifth grade and continued through high school when he was also was introduced to digital music. After a brief detour spent learning and teaching break-dancing, his music interests led him to producing and performing in a local group that did shows in Tucson.
“As the years went by, I got more and more into music technology, and computers played a bigger role in music in the 90s,” Austin said. So he started doing his own research on computers and also found himself working backstage and security on concerts for all genres of music, including Metallica, Van Halen and MC Hammer.
Austin’s growing interest in computers led him to enroll in college at age 44. “All of this culminated in me going back to school. I got my degree in IT in 2015. It was an exciting time to go back to school, being my age. I love information. I was doing a lot of self-research, so being able to go back to school and have a focus made it easy…I felt really entertained by learning new information,” Austin said.
As if all that weren’t enough, that pursuit of everything that interests Austin led him to create his own record label, Dusty South Records (DustySouthRecords@gmail.com). He sings, raps and writes songs. “I can put together a whole piece of music–from writing, producing, recording, and the final process of mastering the music,” he said. “I have some music that I’m trying to release, but I’d also like to get into graphic design or video aspects combined with some of the music that I have,” Austin said. He’s also created sounds for movies, jingles and commercials in his studio that he likens to a scientific lab.
But Austin’s journey hasn’t been without obstacles. The time he spent on computers, reading and studying coding, resulted in a visual condition called Keratoconus that left Austin legally blind one and a half years ago. He persevered and completed his bachelor’s degree.
Ron’s wife, Leslie, was raised in Utah and the two talked about moving back with their young children. Ron recalls being in Arizona and seeing a television report with Leslie that indicated Utah was strong in education. “I remember it specifically, we looked at each other…we really wanted our children to have the best education,” he said. He’d heard of Utah’s Silicon Slopes, and that appealed to the IT graduate, so the family of four made the move to Sandy.
Upon arriving in Utah, Austin found work as a custodian at Corner Canyon High School. It’s a job he’s truly enjoyed. “It’s fun being around the kids; they’re really funny. Being there you can’t help regress in age and almost experience high school again,” he said. “I’d like to give a shout out to Corner Canyon, I love it there. The school is awesome, the way they’ve changed education–it’s hands-on…to see this type of curriculum for kids, it’s just incredible,” Austin said.
Meanwhile, Austin found an eye doctor who helped restore his vision to nearly 20/20 with contacts. “The day I got the contacts… we were going east. To be able to see the mountains, the definition, the crevices, the different lighting, the snow–it was breathtaking. It was like having special HD vision, picturesque in every way,” he said.
While Austin’s actual vision was severely clouded until recently, his vision of a multi-faceted life journey remains clear. He finds himself at a crossroads career-wise, with talents and skills that could lead down different paths, particularly now that his vision is restored. He loves his job, but IT careers also appeal to him, not to mention his music interests. “Having to make the decision on what would be the best thing to do, that’s the very dilemma at this moment, trying to get to the next level of success,” he said.