Serendipity is definitely not a term that rolls off one’s tongue in an effortless glide. Words containing five or more syllables seldom do. However, one with such a beautiful AND mysterious meaning…a seeming gift for finding good things accidentally…warrants making the effort, don’t you think? Then, when you do find out its entire etymology AND the geographic background (an ancient Persian tale, ‘The Three Princes of Serendip,’ that you can read about & find explained in detail on Wikipedia), we know you’ll agree.
Our story contains treasures veritably stumbled upon, as well, so we’ll let you silently practice your pronunciation while reading this modern day fable.
Back on that warm October 2nd evening when the handsome and erudite young man politely asked to be part of a future event whose current iteration had not yet been completed, the listener’s initial verbal ‘snapshot’ was of an accomplished person, quietly exuding a unique combination of confidence and patience. Subsequent investigation proved that first impressions are often correct and in this case were ‘spot on!’
Anyone reading Andy Abad’s curriculum vitae from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music would quickly realize that there was no possible way that a brief encounter, exchanging business cards backstage after a concert, could possibly prepare anyone to even approximate predicting his expertise. Here’s just a smattering of his background:
*toured & recorded with, as well as directed, arranged & wrote music for, amongst others., Clay Aiken; Marc Anthony; The Backstreet Boys; JC Chavez; Lady GaGa; Jewel; Juan Gabriel; Josh Groban; Ricardo Lemvo; Makina Loca; Sam Mangwana; Ricky Martin; Bonnie Raitt; and Robi (Draco) Rosa.
*he also performed on/in the Adam Sandler movie ‘Happy Gilmore’;The American Music Awards; The Blockbuster Awards; The Ellen DeGeneres Show; Good Morning America; The Grammy Awards; The Latin Billboard Awards; The Latin Grammy Awards; Nickelodeon’s ‘Go Diego Go’; The Rosie O’Donnell Show; Saturday Night Live; The Today Show; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; and The View.
Meeting Andy was serendipitous but perhaps the quintessential example of the word and its various forms is what follows. You’ll need to hear the rest of the story before deciding on that judgement’s accuracy.
After starting his musical training at the age of 10 on the accordion, he decided when he was 13 that the guitar was more to his liking. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, even teaching the instruments he had mastered while in graduate school at USC: the acoustic, electric, African, Spanish, and tres guitars. Oh, and lest we forget to mention it, while still in college, he was part of the Grammy Award-winning jazz ensemble, Shadowfax.
The next brush with serendipity came in 2006 while he was an adjunct professor at USC. As Lauren Steinberg of ‘The Daily Trojan’ found out while interviewing Suemy Gonzalez of the now-famed Trio Ellas. “I started playing classical music and I did it pretty much through high school. However, around the age of 11 , my parents wanted me to get in touch with my Mexican culture and so they introduced me to mariachi music. I started playing with a local band in Sacramento, which is where I’m from, and ever since I fell in love with the music itself.”
“After many years of performing and touring, I had an epiphany that I needed to go back to school to study music the right way and learn how to put my ideas on paper. I knew that USC had an amazing music program and I thought that their Pop and Commercial Music Program would be something perfect for me as well, because at that time I was part of a band that I had just formed.”
As Steinberg tells it, “…the group began when Gonzalez moved to Los Angeles after getting a job at Disneyland. The budding songstress already knew the other members, Nelly Cortez and Stephanie Amaro, who were making their own advances as mariacheras. The three musicians teamed up and the success of their first gig seemed to indicate that the collaboration was a good idea.”
Suemy added “…We went out to the restaurant expecting to play the traditional mariachi music and the manager really liked the sound we were creating.. Since it was the first time we had really performed together before a live audience we were really excited. We were hired to play on a weekly basis and found that the restaurant’s customers became clients who hired us to play for private parties and weddings. At this point, we were still sticking to the traditional sound but people started asking us for our own versions of different songs (American classics like ‘Hotel California’). We quickly realized that we could do that, that we could totally ‘step out of the box’ and do that kind of stuff. That’s when the group really began to find its unique niche.”
“We really like harmonies.” Although Steinberg writes that “…you might call them The Dixie Chicks of Latin music,” Gonzalez says their unique vocal sound…a tight & perfect tripartite blending… hearkens back to an earlier time (actually about seventy years earlier) when three World War II era sisters, Patty, Laverne, and Maxine, started touring as The Andrews Sisters. Serendipity? No doubt! Especially since , as she says, “…when people hear us for the first time, they think that it is a very fresh sound.”
Steinberg interjected with yet another serendipitous occurrence”…this sound is what attracted Thornton professor Andy Abad, who produced their first album, ‘Con Ustedes…Trio Ellas.‘ Since they did not have a record label or a large budget, he created the arrangements for the group and…lo-and-behold…their home grown initial project was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2012.”
Abad also met one of the trio’s team members, Stephanie Amaro, for the first time and …in yet another example of accidentally finding , in this case, a very good relationship…they soon became husband-and-wife.
Fast forward to 2014 and the girls’ second album, ‘Noche Angelinas,’ is being considered for another Latin Grammy nomination. In addition Abad’s own group, The Blue Agave, now featuring his wife’s beautiful vocals and his sparkling guitar-centric arrangements PLUS Trio Ellas were featured in a recently rave-reviewed SRO concert, ‘ESL=English as a Second Language,’ held at the iconic Los Angeles venue, the John Anson Ford Theater. You can check out both groups’ scintillating performances by watching these YouTube videos: http://youtu.be/w9259Lf4miI?list=PLR3-9Y0ZJuIZGGOAA5w4voTC4a5X6QmT1 and http://youtu.be/vkiNDf2kbbQ
If you would like to see these amazing musicians LIVE and in action for a very worthy cause, please enter Saturday evening February 28th into your calendar of not-to-be-missed events when both The Blue Agave and Trio Ellas will be featured in a one-night-only concert in support of the Club de Ninos de Ninas de Rosarito (The Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito) to be held at the Salon Mexicano Main Showroom of the historic oceanfront Rosarito Beach Hotel. Special packages, including two nights of deluxe oceanfront accommodations and two tickets to the concert, will be available and will go on sale when all the details are released on Monday, December 15th
Please contact either Rosy Torres, President of the Boys and Girls Club, via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (661) 850-1773 for more information or Gil Sperry.,Vice President of the Club, via e-mail at: email@example.com or by phone at (619) 887-9288 or (661) 614-0335.
This special performance, featuring what we might call the ‘Three Princesses of Serendip’ (an updated version of the fable that we told you about in the first paragraph of this article) …directed by a master of modern music…will be an evening that you’ll always remember for a cause that you’ll never forget!