USC vice dean of contemporary music Chris Sampson, second from left, works… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
A concert Sunday at the Troubadour in West Hollywood constitutes more than the usual raft of aspiring musicians that often takes place in local clubs: This one will showcase nearly two dozen students who make up the first graduating class from USC’s Popular Music Program, touted as the first of its kind at a major university in granting baccalaureate degrees in pop music performance.
It’s hardly the students’ first foray into the public spotlight — most have been honing their chops with performances on and off campus since USC instituted the new degree in 2008. Some have landed real-world gigs with groups including Maroon 5; Earth, Wind & Fire; Frankie Valli; the Four Seasons; the Steve Miller Band; and Pentatonix.
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One student, Suemy Gonzalez, recently became the first from the program to receive a Grammy nomination when the mariachi group she’s part of, Trio Ellas, scored a Latin Grammy nomination in the Regional Mexican Field.
Gonzalez and 20 of her Popular Music Program peers will play on the show that starts at 7:30 p.m. Multiple Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Randy Newman is among the professional mentors who work closely with the program, which is directed by keyboardist-composer Patrice Rushen. Randy Jackson and Lamont Dozier are slated to be in attendance on Sunday. Admission is free.
A full lineup for Sunday’s concert is available on USC’s Popular Music Program website.
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