The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books won’t just feature prominent authors and poets. Many USC students and alumni will also be in the spotlight, performing their own songs or playing their instruments at the event. Here are some performers set to take the stage this weekend.
A senior majoring in popular music performance, Anna Dellaria writes and performs her own songs, which focus on the pop and R&B genres. She has performed with artists such as Chaka Khan, John Fogerty and Lamont Dozier and worked with industry greats such as Patrice Rushen and Romeo Johnson.
Dellaria is passionate about the way music can serve as a unifying force as well as a mode of expression for human emotion, and she hopes that her music will have a positive impact on others.
“Music is a universal language,” Dellaria said. “It transcends all boundaries of time, era, genre [and] location and allows us as humans to connect. I want to be able to be a part of music and its impact on the world. I want to be able to make a difference.”
After a short period of laying low, Dellaria is back and better than ever, with new songs and new collaborative content, as well as several scheduled shows.
“I will be performing a lot and I am in the process of actually releasing new music,” Dellaria said. “I’m excited to share these songs that I’ve recorded and to keep working with the amazing producers on future songs.”
Javen Smith, who performs under the name J.VEN, is a singer and songwriter specializing in pop and R&B. After briefly attending the NYU Tisch School of the Arts as an acting major, he transferred to the USC Thornton School of Music as a senior majoring in popular music.
Smith was raised in a series of foster care homes and had to overcome struggles in order to get his music career off the ground. Smith was able to persevere and succeed despite his early hardships.
“As a foster care student, I don’t really know anyone here,” Smith said. “I don’t have a lot of connections. Also, it’s expensive to make and promote music. Finding the capital to create the music has always been a large struggle.”
Performing at the Festival of Books will be an honor for Smith, who, ever since witnessing older students in the popular music program performing at the festival, had aspired to do the same.
“When I was a freshman here at USC, I saw some of the seniors performing [at the Festival of Books] and I thought that was such a milestone,” Smith said. “I wanted to perform there as well before I left.”
Thumpasaurus is a high-energy funk band that dabbles in
several different genres, such as funk, dance, punk, blues and rock and roll. The band is comprised of Lucas Tamaren on guitar and vocals, Henry Solomon on saxophone, Paul Cornish on keys, Logan Kane on bass and Henry Was on drums and production.
Lucas Tamaren, a freelance musician and composer and lead guitar and singer of the band, said that the band developed organically after the members met and studied together at Thornton.
“We started out of USC,” Tamaren said. “The band mostly includes USC jazz students, three of whom are currently still in school. We met together through mutual friends, started playing house parties, and then it naturally grew.”
Tamaren hoped that Thumpasaurus would turn into a full-fledged gig in the future, allowing the members to forge a future out of their passion for music.
“We all love playing together,” Tamaren said. “We want to see where we can take Thumpasaurus creatively and see if it sticks with people. Do it as both our passion and our career.”
Trio Ellas is composed of Thornton alumna Suemy Gonzalez on violin and vocals, a graduate of Thornton, Nelly Cortez on guitarron and vocals and Stephanie Amaro on guitar and vocals. Their unique sound stems from traditional mariachi roots infused with a variety of different genres inspired by the eclectic L.A. music scene.
The trio’s debut album Con Ustedes was nominated for a 2012 Latin Grammy. The trio has recorded for artists such as Benjamin Gibbard and Lady Gaga, and performed live with several top artists including Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and Mariachi El Bronx.
The SoCal VoCals
Founded in 1996, The SoCal VoCals is the first of nine a cappella groups at USC. Comprised of a select group of students, the group arranges and sing songs from multiple genres, including pop, rock and jazz.
The group has released seven albums so far. In the past, it has performed at prestigious venues such as the Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Getty Center, Rose Bowl, Los Angeles House of Blues and Hollywood Bowl. The SoCal VoCals is known for its engaging performance style and school spirit.
Spirit of Troy
The USC Trojan Marching Band, nicknamed the Spirit of Troy, was founded in 1880 and features over 300 students. The Spirit of Troy represents USC at various collegiate sports, broadcast, popular music recording and national public appearance functions and is an iconic symbol of the university. A contingent of the band has not missed a single Trojan football game, home and away, since 1987. It was named “Best Band in College Football” by USA Today in 2014.