A look at some of the USC musicians taking the stage this weekend

Photo of Celeste from Facebook.

The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will take place on campus from April 21 to 22. In addition to a slew of authors and literary events, the festival will also host a variety of musical performances over the course of the weekend. These artists hail from across  the Los Angeles area, but many of them are affiliated with USC, either as current or past students and professors. This list provides a rundown of the USC-affiliated acts, all of which will take place on the USC stage, located in Hanh  Plaza.


Celeste Butler – 2 p.m.

Celeste Butler is a senior majoring in popular music. She is a seasoned musician, already having performed at the STAPLES Center, the Moonlight Amphitheatre and the Copley Symphony Hall. Her music reflects her gospel roots and is influenced by modern R&B, EDM and pop. Butler will perform songs that embody love, culture and community.

Kinglii – 4:20 p.m.

Kinglii consists of a trio of USC students: vocalist/guitarist Mark Adam, bassist Eddie Stone and drummer Jarren Heidelberg. Like Butler, all three are currently seniors majoring in popular music. They started working together to support Adam as a songwriter and became a unit over time. From the start, they have never been afraid to create unconventional forms of music.

“We’ve experimented with utilizing everything in and outside of the usual rock band idiom: from guitars, keyboards, to kazoos and various percussion elements,” Stone said.

Now they wear t-shirts are emblazoned with the slogan, “genre is dead” and the band reflects this motto with its blended R&B, folk and pop melodies. The band has been performing live for the past two years, including such venues as Tommy’s Place and the Trojan TV Soundstage. They will be performing songs from their debut EP, “Fellas,” which was released this past October, as well their funk-dance song “Body Language.”

“We hope that the audience will leave feeling better connected with themselves, and/or with a loved one because of the stories we tell and our contagious energy,” Adam said.

LAMI – 5:30 p.m.

LAMI is the stage name for Lami Friebe, a sophomore majoring in  popular music. He is a rapper, singer, drummer and pianist who comes from a family of musicians. His musical style has been influenced by hip-hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, and jazz artists will perform five of his pieces from current projects, as well as music from unreleased and upcoming projects.

“I want the audience to leave having felt like they went on a musical journey through different styles and be able to have a stronger appreciation for hip hop, as well as appreciating the hard work and musicianship on stage … and to just have a fun time listening and dancing to my music,” Friebe said.


The USC Marching Band will kick off the day’s performances at 10 a.m., paving the way for the following acts.

The Kinetic Winds – 11:40 a.m.

The Kinetic Winds, founded in August 2017, is a quintet comprising five USC Thornton School of Music graduate students. The group is led by bassoonist Amber Wyma, clarinetist Sergio Coelho, oboist Chris Fujiwara, horn player Sean Holmes and flutist Emma McCartney. They have performed a variety of different pieces, even rearranging ones intended for full orchestras.

The Blue Agave – 2 p.m.

The Blue Agave is a Latin musical performance project created by Andy Abad and Stephanie Amaro, a husband-wife duo. Abad is currently a professor of popular music at USC and Amaro is a Grammy-nominated artist who has been heavily involved in the L.A. mariachi scene. The couple delivers traditional bolero and flamenco music infused with rock and dark surf elements.

ALAJE – 4:30 p.m.

ALAJE, or the Afro-Latin American Jazz Ensemble, will take the stage for the final performance of the festival. Its musical style is rooted in Afro-Cuban influences, especially rhythms from Brazil and Cuba combined with jazz sensibility. The band frequently features special guests and pieces arranged by students, making this “little big band” a favorite in the Thornton community. Sixteen ALAJE  band members, including graduate and undergraduate students, will perform on Sunday, led by faculty director Aaron Serfaty.