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USC Popular Music Program grads to play Sunday at Troubadour

April 19, 2013|By Randy Lewis
  • USC vice dean of contemporary music Chris Sampson, second from left, works with students in the Popular Music Program during its first year in 2008.
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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