Elon University alumnus and former member of Elon a cappella group Vital Signs, Miles Caraballo ’22 formed his own a cappella group — Queen City Vocals — based in Charlotte. 

After graduating, Caraballo said he spent the summer working in the food industry, but he quickly came to realize there was a part of him that remained unfulfilled without music. Eventually, he took a job as a band teacher in the Charlotte area. 

While Caraballo said becoming a band teacher was a great step toward incorporating music into his day-to-day life, he wanted to start something that felt more personal outside of work. 

“I was still really bored because when I was in college, I sang all the time, and I was with a bunch of people I always had a lot of fun with,” Caraballo said. “So I was like, ‘I’m just going to go ahead and start my own a cappella group to have a fun musical outlet as well.’”

This is not the first time Caraballo had started his own a cappella group. 

Caraballo started his music career as a member of his school band in middle school. It was not until his sophomore year at Myers Park High School in Charlotte that he decided to join choir. On top of that, he formed a high school a cappella group of his own.

“That’s sort of something I like to do,” Caraballo said. “If there’s not one for me, I’m like, ‘Well damn, guess I’m just going to start my own.’”

Through his  high school group, Caraballo said he learned many skills, such as arranging music, running rehearsals and finding the best possible music to fit the group’s style and voices. 

Taking on challenging tasks is not new for Caraballo, as he formed Queen City Vocals from the ground up. 

“I was like, ‘Where am I going to find singers?’” Caraballo said. “Because just walking around asking people if they can sing, which I’ve done, is not the best tactic to go about.”

In September 2022, Caraballo used some of his connections from high school and college to recruit members, but he said his initial numbers wouldn’t cut it for the group he had envisioned. Caraballo knew he had to find other resources to reach out to members of the community. 

Caraballo found Facebook groups such as “Charlotte Musicians” and “Singers Around Charlotte.” Upon asking if anyone was interested in joining his group, he received a lot of interest. 

When asking for and receiving audition videos, Caraballo said he found it difficult to choose members for his group. He said he began to learn that certain individuals may not be what he expected, but often turned out to be what he needed.

“The challenges are just trusting strangers and having to maybe cross the path where they’re not quite what I thought they were going to be,” Caraballo said. “I was certainly taking a bit of a leap with letting these strangers into my group, but it paid off.”

For Caraballo, high risk comes with high reward. He has spent the last four months creating some of his fondest memories — some of those memories taking place at Elon.

The Vital Signs annual Make-A-Wish concert is one that Caraballo is very familiar with, having performed it with the group in the past. On Feb. 18,  Queen City Vocals was invited to perform at the concert, an opportunity Caraballo described as a very special moment for his group. Caraballo said performing at concerts like this provides an opportunity to be around people to “just be social with outside your job or your family.”

With Queen City Vocals, Caraballo hopes to open doors for future students to take initiative beyond a school setting to start their own musical groups. 

“The people in my group, they really enjoy having that space to be able to make music, even if it is just purely for our enjoyment,” Caraballo said. “It means everything to be able to sing together and have rehearsals together and bond.”

Caraballo’s one piece of advice he hopes resonates with others is to always try to achieve your goals. 

“In my experience, the worst thing you can do not is not try,” Caraballo said. “If you do it and it doesn’t work out, you learn something. If you do it and it does work out, you learn something. You can always learn something no matter what.”

Caraballo’s plans for the future of his group is to continue to rehearse with one another. Step one in continuing this journey with Queen City Vocals — and for Caraballo — is to “have fun and make music.” 

Most importantly, Caraballo hopes to inform others about how influential music can be on everyone’s lives.

“Music is a lot more powerful than any of us really know,” Caraballo said. “So it’s important to keep it in our lives and not take advantage of it.”