Born in Silver Spring, MD, Justin Kauflin began music at age 4 with Suzuki violin, adding piano a few years later. By age 6, he was performing professionally.
However, he also endured numerous trials, particularly losing total vision from exudative retinopathy by age 11. He adjusted by learning 4 types of Braille, cane mobility and, after a decade of classical violin and piano, switched to jazz piano in high school at the Governor’s School for Performing Arts studying with Liz Barnes and Old Dominion University’s John Toomey. He attended the Vail Jazz Workshop, Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Residency, and received top honors in jazz festivals across the U.S. He began performing jazz professionally at age 15, most notably with the Jae Sinnett Trio.
In 2004, Justin graduated at the top of his class alongside his sighted peers at Salem High and the Governor’s School, receiving a Presidential scholarship to attend William Paterson University in New Jersey. At WPU, he was taken under the wings of legendary trumpeter, Clark Terry and was a member in the Clark Terry Ensemble. He also had the tremendous privilege of learning from his hero, the late Mulgrew Miller, as well as Harold Mabern and the late James Williams. While attending William Paterson, he accepted any opportunity to sit in, and/or perform with his trio in New York City. He graduated summa cum laude in 2008, moved to NYC and, at age 23 produced, led, composed and performed on his first CD,