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Latin Grammy Nominee in Spotlight Again

Suemy Gonzalez of Trio Ellas is the first Latina to graduate from USC Popular Music Performance Program

By LatinoLA Contributor, USC Media Relations
Published on LatinoLA: May 13, 2013


Latin Grammy Nominee in Spotlight Again


For Latin GRAMMY nominated musician Suemy Gonzalez, a University of Southern California (USC) senior, this has been a year of firsts.

As one of six Hispanics currently enrolled in the groundbreaking Popular Music Performance Program at USC's Thornton School of Music, Gonzalez will soon be the first Latina to graduate from the program when she receives her degree ‘«Ű with honors ‘«Ű at USC's Commencement on May 17, 2013.

Gonzalez, who hails from Sacramento, CA, began playing classical music at the age of 5, and was introduced to mariachi music around the age of 11 by her parents, who wanted her to get in touch with her Mexican heritage.

After high school, Gonzalez toured with professional mariachi groups before attending Mount San Antonio College just east of Los Angeles, and then transferring to USC's Popular Music Performance Program in 2010.

"As the first Latina graduating from the USC Thornton Popular Music Performance program, I hope to set an example for future Latinos. Anything is possible when you set your mind to it,"said Gonzalez. "While learning alongside first class musicians, this program gave me the tools to become a well rounded musician while developing my musical creativity and leadership."

Despite a vigorous schedule, which included a variety of classes ranging from music theory, arranging, industry, and performance, Gonzalez also continued to pursue her music professionally as a member of the female group Trio Ellas.

Adding to the many firsts in her life this year, Trio Ellas was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY along with fellow group members Stephanie Amaro (guitar) and Nelly Cortez (guitarron). Gonzalez lends her talents as a violinist and vocalist to the trio, which fuses traditional material with rock and romantic influences.

The group was nominated for best ranchero album, Con Ustedes ‘«™Trio Ellas. The album, released in May 2012, was produced by USC Thornton faculty member Andy Abad. Fellow Popular Music Performance Program student Matias Mora created original artwork for the album.

"Suemy is the absolute best example of how one can leverage their music education," said Chris Sampson, Vice Dean for Contemporary Music and Founding Director of the USC Popular Music program. "She brought her extraordinary talent to USC, and through the curriculum, acquired a range of additional skill sets. She then immediately applied her skills to real world professional music activities. As a result, she's incredibly well positioned for success."

About Trio Ellas:

Trio Ellas was formed in 2006, and has been steadily gaining attention. The trio completed a tour of Okinawa for USO (performing 17 shows in 5 days), and was honored to perform at the annual LULAC convention in Orlando, FL, as well as at the Latinos Unidos event at Democratic National Convention in North Carolina in 2012.. Later that summer also included a two- week run at the Hollywood Bowl's "Summer Sounds" children's program, and a performance the San Jose Latin Music Festival.

Trio Ellas has lent its skill to recordings for artists such as Benjamin Gibbard and Lady GaGa, and has performed live with artists ranging from Cristian Castro to Mariachi El Bronx.

About USC Thornton's Popular Music Program:

USC Thornton's Popular Music program, which began in 2009, is a music degree program for rock, pop, R&B, folk, Latin and country artists. It has become highly competitive, with prospective students from around the world auditioning for a chance to enroll.

The USC Thornton School began this program because it recognized the opportunity to address the needs of musicians who did not fit the traditional classical and jazz offerings that are typical in most university music programs. In bringing these students together in Los Angeles, a music industry capital, the program also aspires to address the dynamic and changing landscape of the music profession.

The program is open to instrumentalists, vocalists and songwriters pursuing studies in contemporary pop/rock, folk-rock, R&B/urban, Latin/salsa and other popular styles with a concentration on small ensemble performance, live performance, studio and film scoring sessions.

About USC Thornton School of Music:

The USC Thornton School of Music brings together a stellar faculty chosen from a broad spectrum of the music profession and gifted students representing 40 countries, from Ireland to Czechoslovakia to Brazil.

By blending the rigors of a traditional conservatory-style education with the benefits of a leading research university, USC Thornton offers an impressive range of performance opportunities and a curriculum designed to prepare students for successful careers in the 21st century. The Thornton School presents more than 500 concerts each year and is the only music school with a weekly radio broadcast in a major media market featuring student performances.

And there is no place like the USC Thornton School of Music to nurture that sense of musical adventure. Founded in 1884 and today the oldest continually operating cultural institution in Los Angeles, the USC Thornton School is internationally recognized one of the finest conservatories and music schools in the United States. USC Thornton is an anchor institution in Los Angeles ‘«Ű often billed as the "Creative Capital of the World" - and also because of our location on the Pacific Rim. For more the 125 years, we have prepared our students to excel as composers, industry leaders, educators, and performers in studios and on stages around the world.

The USC Thornton School boasts legendary musicians and educators on its faculty, including internationally renowned performers and musicologists, and winners of prestigious awards and hundreds of Academy- and Grammy-awards.

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC Thornton offers students every
advantage of studying, performing, and networking in the world's most vibrant music industry hub. Every week, our students engage with leading professionals in all aspects of the music, recording, and entertainment industries, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Grammy Foundation, and The Recording Academy. Thornton students also are a constant presence in local classrooms, reaching out to the next generation of musicians.

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