USC alumna showcases soulful voice

Like a story straight out of a Hollywood film, up-and-coming pop singer Rozzi Crane found herself stumbling into stardom in a USC classroom. At only 22, Crane is the first musician to sign to Adam Levine’s label, 222 Records, and is currently finishing a tour with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

She’s got soul · USC popular music graduate Rozzi Crane (right) performs alongside Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (left). Crane caught Levine’s attention when her manager sent Levine a link to a YouTube video of Crane singing.  - Courtesy of Travis Schneider

She’s got soul · USC popular music graduate Rozzi Crane (right) performs alongside Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (left). Crane caught Levine’s attention when her manager sent Levine a link to a YouTube video of Crane singing. – Courtesy of Travis Schneider

The soulful starlet is already making waves in the music industry, but it wasn’t too long ago that Crane was a USC student herself. A run-in with Phantom Planet band member Jacques Brautbar in a popular music class during her sophomore year launched the young singer into the spotlight overnight.

Brautbar was a T.A. in Crane’s class who saw something special in the singer and asked her to collaborate on some music. The band’s manager then emailed a YouTube video featuring Crane to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, who was equally impressed by the young singer’s abilities. Levine immediately emailed Crane saying, “Let’s start a label.”

But what sounds like a perfect Hollywood ending is only the very beginning for the young singer. Crane’s music has a distinct soulful sound inspired by hip-hop artists such as André 3000 and Lauryn Hill and divas such as Amy Winehouse. More recently, she teamed up with hip hop demigod Kendrick Lamar to produce a single for her debut album.

The sultry songstress, originally from San Francisco, said she has always had an interest in music.

“My mom always played music in the house,” Crane said. “I started attending music classes when I was three. I did a talent show in the third grade, and ever since then I was determined to become a singer.”

Crane acknowledges her hometown has had a significant impact on her style of music.

“There’s a certain authenticity in San Francisco,” Crane said. “I was always surrounded by quality musicians, especially soul musicians, and that definitely inspired my music.”

That authenticity is echoed in Crane’s songwriting. More than just a beautiful voice, Crane can also take credit for writing many of her tunes. She draws inspiration from “a little bit of everything” in her songwriting, but of course, relationships do play a major role.

“Heartbreak is the easiest [topic] because it’s so intense,” Crane said. “It’s easiest to find the words. I think that’s why so many musicians write about relationships because it’s the most frustrating, as well as the most wonderful, part of our lives.”

Crane’s beginnings include active involvement within the USC community, largely within the popular music department. She credits her current success to her time spent as a popular music student at USC. Which seems only logical, given that four members of Crane’s band are also USC alumni.

“USC was, and still is, such an integral part of my career,” Crane said. “The popular music major is completely unique, and I was so lucky to be a part of it. The talent coming out of the program is unreal, and the collaboration that’s coming out of the program is even more amazing.”

One collaborator from USC is band member Sam Wilkes, a longtime friend of Crane’s who arranges all of her music.

“[This is] the most important working relationship I have ever established,” Crane said.

Crane began her partnership with Wilkes during a popular music class at USC. Other USC alumni band members include Brandon Bay and Will Baldocchi, both popular music majors.

The close relationship with her fellow band members makes touring an important part of Crane’s journey as an artist. Crane says her current tour has been her favorite so far.

“I’m very close with the guys in Maroon 5, as well as the guys in my band being like my brothers,” Crane said. “So getting to work with all my best friends every set definitely makes this tour my favorite.”

Though the 22-year-old certainly already has much to boast about, she instead chooses to stay humble.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like [I’ve made it]. There are definitely moments that feel good,” Crane said. “But mostly I’m thinking about all the things I haven’t done yet — all the things I want to do.”

Crane looks forward to releasing her own music in the future and having an impact on the lives of others with her unique voice.

“I haven’t gotten to release any music yet, so I’m most excited about getting to do that,” Crane said. “I’m also excited to continue touring to reach as many people as possible, and [to] continue to build that community of people who want to hear my music.”

When offering advice to aspiring musicians, Crane looks back at her journey and remembers what it took for her to achieve her goals as she continues to grow as a musician.

“Practice all the time,” Crane said. “Practice as much as you can, [and] say yes to every opportunity, within reason.”

Though Crane’s release date for her debut album remains undecided. Her tour will conclude on Oct. 6 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Follow Caroline on Twitter @c_kamm