Rozzi Crane stands on stage in front of over 1200 people at Bovard Auditorium on a Thursday night. Although she’s just the opening act, she has the audience captivated by her sultry voice. Her acoustic performance, with just her, a piano, and guitar, showcases her unbelievable talent and a sound you wouldn’t believe was coming from a girl of a mere 18 years. After she performs two original songs, she is greeted by a boisterous auditorium and graciously thanks her audience. Minutes later, the Steve Miller Band hits the stage. Yes, the same iconic band of the ’60′s. Yes, the band with enormous hits like “The Joker” and “Fly Like An Eagle.” So how did a college freshman get the chance to open for one of the greatest rock bands of all time? All thanks to the innovative Popular Music Performance major at USC’s Thorton School of Music.
Growing Up In Front of an Audience
It was easy for the San Francisco native to find her way to the program at USC . “My mom took me to my first music class at 3,” Crane said, “and I sang at my first grade talent show when I was 6. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a singer.” Her youth revolved around every aspect of the stage. She was performing in musicals and plays at 9, singing and dancing whenever she could. Her first star moment came in 7th grade, where she played the role of Eponine in Les Miserables. “That performance just took my love of music to a whole new level,’ she said. When she got to high school, she joined the choir. That’s where her love of gospel, R&B, and soul started to develop. By senior year she had her first professional recording and was playing around town at music festivals and lounges.
When the big college question came around, USC’s new program sounded perfect. Crane said, “This is really the only school with a popular music program, the only university in the entire country. Not to mention it’s in Los Angeles, right in the heart of the music industry where it’s all happening.” Her unique voice gained her acceptance into the major with only six other vocalists.
Opportunity of a Lifetime
After only a few weeks into her freshman year, Rozzi was presented with an unbelievable opportunity: to open for the Steve Miller Band. Steve and the gang offered to come play for free for the 125th anniversary of the Thorton School of Music over Parent’s Weekend. But with the entire School of Music able to try out for four coveted spots, she didn’t know what her chances would be. “There were five guys sitting there, kind of intimidating, and I just sang a song and that was it,” she said. A week later she woke up to a flurry of text message from her friends congratulating her. “Not only is the Steve Miller Band such an amazing group of musicians, and Steve Miller is huge,” she said, “but the chance to perform in Bovard was so exciting. And on top of that, the chance to perform my own songs was so exciting.”
Having only a week to prepare for the show, she and her chosen band mates, piano man Ben Brahm and guitar player John Schroeder, buckled down in the practice rooms. As the show got closer, Rozzi was given even more exciting news: She was going to sing back-up vocals for Steve. After a few long nights of nailing her songs, October 22nd, the day of the show, finally arrived. And Rozzi was invited to the band’s sound check. She said, “Meeting him was really cool. He knows exactly what he wants to hear and he’s relentless about how he wants it to sound.” But soon the thrill wore off to reveal nerves as the moment came for her performance. “Opening was so awesome. The crowd was really receptive and really supportive. It was exactly how I hoped it would be.” After her two songs, Rozzi got ready to join Steve and the band on-stage at the end of the show for an opportunity that few musicians will ever get. “It was such a trip to be on there with Steve Miller, singing his songs, with him.“
What the Future Holds
While Rozzi has already accomplished an amazing goal in just her first semester at USC, she is only getting started. Almost weekly she’s performing around campus. Whether it be at a Songwriter’s Showcase at Ground Zero or a fraternity benefit concert on the Row, Rozzi is getting her name out there. She hopes to soon start performing around LA, but for now she’s happy just getting to know her new friends and adjusting to college life. Remember, the girl with the pipes is merely 18.
You can purchase Rozzi’s debut album on iTunes or here.
For more information on Rozzi’s major, click here.