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Secretary, Building Supervisor Leave Boss Alone in the Office : Hot Inglewood Singing Duo Warms Hearts

December 10, 1987|KATHERINE DYAR | Times Staff Writer

Simon and Garfunkel.

Hall and Oates.

Clady and Jones?

The last pair may not be as familiar as the first two, but around Inglewood, the singing duo of Sandy Clady and Leonard Jones has a faithful following. Children recognize them in malls. Fans deluge them with mail. Last Christmas, the pair sang to more than 2,000 people in two weeks.

Not bad for a secretary and a building supervisor.

Clady and Jones both work in the cultural section of the Inglewood Parks and Recreation Department--Clady as a secretary and Jones as a building supervisor and recreation leader. Together with their boss-cum-producer, Julius Schwartz, they have created what they call their Music Outreach program, performing four or five times each month at elementary schools and convalescent hospitals.

Schwartz, who started the cultural office more than 20 years ago, is a boss who encourages his staff to be away from their desks. When Clady transferred to Schwartz's section in 1982, she said, she mentioned that she could sing, and "right away he said, 'Great, let's go to the schools.' He really kind of persuaded me."

Schwartz takes credit for pairing Clady with Jones, who had been singing for the department at summer day camps. But he admits that he doesn't remember what inspired him to put together a program that would take his only two employees out of the office several times a month.

"I know I must have heard Sandy sing sometime. I already had Leonard going into the schools . . . and I suggested to Sandy that she sing, and she got really interested in it," Schwartz said. "The two of them started working together, and it grew from there."

Although this sometimes leaves him alone to run the office, Schwartz says it has never been a problem. "There's only the three of us, but Sandy's a fast typist, so she can make up any time we lose."

When the duo began touring the city five years ago, they mainly performed at special assemblies for students at Worthington, La Tijera, Highland and Centinela elementary schools. The pair use pre-recorded music in their shows and sing a variety of pop, jazz and gospel songs.

Vera Stevens, principal at La Tijera, said that her students enjoy Clady and Jones because the pair "think of the audience that they're singing to and catch the ears of the students. They have the right chemistry."

The team moved on to hospitals and convalescent homes. Clady said they have been regular performers at the Inglewood Convalarium and the local senior citizens center, and have an annual gig at the patients' Christmas party at the Kaiser Skilled Nursing Facility in Inglewood.

"They are really responsible for uplifting the patients. They really reach out," said VeLores Thompson, activities director for the Kaiser facility.

Jones said he and Clady adapt their music to suit their audience. "We try to do what the people like," he said. "When we go to senior citizens, we do stuff they can relate to. We try to get them involved and into the music."

Elizabeth Payne, director of activities at the Inglewood Senior Citizens Center, said she has the pair back regularly because "they're young and vibrant and they project love to the seniors. When they walk in, the seniors know that they are there because they care."

Clady, who started singing at school dances when she was 13, said the convalescent homes are her favorite place to perform.

"You have all these lonely people who hardly get any visitors, and just for somebody to come in there, their eyes light up like stars. I get more out of that than making a record," she said. "We're like stars to them."

As for making records, Clady said she was working with a producer on a demo tape last month, but lack of time forced her to set the project aside. "Even if I don't ever make a record, I want to pursue my singing career," she said. "But I never thought I would be doing something like this as a secretary."

Originally from Stockton, Clady grew up with two percussionists for brothers and was playing drums in a pop band by the time she was 16. When she moved to Los Angeles two years later, she worked for several years as a fashion model before taking several secretarial jobs.

Besides singing, Clady directs free talent shows for the cultural office, auditioning local performers and emceeing the programs.

"We have a lot of local talent," she said, noting in particular the gospel groups in the singing competitions.

Jones said he was performing with some local bands before he started working as a recreation leader in Inglewood.

"Singing was just something to keep me busy then," Jones said, "but by working with Julius, I could do that and meet a lot of great people. We get a very satisfying reaction from the people. . . . That's what's important, you know. Performing is not all about the money."

Clady agreed: "The way I get paid is just seeing the smiles on people's faces. Sometimes they hold my hand and sometimes they cry. I love it. I'm thankful to God for blessing me with a voice."

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