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Alumni Profiles

Alumni Who Rock

Across genres and generations, former Crossroads students have gone on to play and perform music all over the world.
Indeed, the School has helped spawn an expansive musical community, and the incredible people within it have supported and collaborated with each other as they have moved into the professional realm. The list of Crossroads alumni who rock is long—and it’s a wondrously talented group. Here’s a sampling of the graduates and their recent accomplishments:
Gillian Welch ’85 and partner David Rawlings sang their Oscar-nominated song at the Academy Awards in February. The song, “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” was featured in the Coen brothers’ most recent film, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Gillian and David have been longtime collaborators with the Coen brothers and with T Bone Burnett. Gillian, who has many CDs to her credit, recently performed with David at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Jack Black ’87 embarked on an international tour with Tenacious D, starting June 1 at the SSE Arena, Wembley, in London.
Joey Waronker ’88 is a producer and performer who has played drums with everyone from Beck and R.E.M. to Atoms for Peace, Ultraísta, Ima Robot and Roger Waters.
Maya Rudolph ’90 recently appeared at two sold-out shows in Los Angeles at the Teragram Ballroom with her band, Princess. They were also scheduled to play in New York, Chicago and at Bonaroo, among other venues. 
Anna Waronker ’90

Joachim Cooder ’96

Raya Yarbrough ’98

Evan Francis ’98

Ian Sloane ’06

Anna Waronker ’90Rachel Haden ’90 and Petra Haden ’90 were founding members of the band That Dog, and all continue to perform, as does Tanya Haden ’90. The Haden sisters have performed as the Haden Triplets and with their dad, the late Charlie Haden. Petra has appeared with legendary guitarist Bill Frisell. She is famous for her choral work, collaborations with her sisters and her amazing vocal prowess. Her a cappella recordings like “Petra Goes to the Movies” and “The Who Sell Out” have brought her wide recognition.
Inara George ’92 has recently performed a new song cycle about Margaret Sanger, an early birth control activist. She worked with Bella Porter ’15 and Maiya Sykes ’96 on this project. “It was like a mini Crossroads reunion!” says Inara, who has also worked with Joachim Cooder ’96 on her Jam in the Van series. Her CD, “Dearest Everybody,” was released in 2018.
Joachim Cooder ’96, a drummer and producer, recently released a CD called “Fuchsia Machu Picchu.” He is touring with Ry Cooder and Roseanne Cash in a tribute to Johnny Cash; he works with his wife and former classmate, Juliette Commagere ’96, who has several CDs.
Maiya Sykes ’96 has been working professionally as a vocalist, arranger, contractor and songwriter for the last 20 years. Her credits include “La La Land” and “The Art of McCartney,” and she has worked with artists such as Allen Stone, Postmodern Jukebox, Michael Bublé, Macy Gray, Avril Lavigne, Lupe Fiasco and many others. She was on the seventh season of “The Voice” in 2014 and had the interest of all four judges in 11 seconds. She credits her education at Crossroads for giving her the courage to believe that such a career was possible in the first place.
Zac Rae ’97 is a pianist, keyboardist and film score composer who has worked with artists such as Stevie Nicks, Death Cab for Cutie, Alessia Cara, Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey, John Legend, Childish Gambino, Andra Day and Alanis Morissette. Zac has also contributed his musical talents to a number of films, including “The Theory of Everything,” “How to Be Single” and, most recently, “Amateur.” Zac shares, “[Crossroads] was a great environment, not only because of the school groups, which were excellent, but also because of the encouragement for students to do their own thing and be creative.”
Sunny Levine ’97 has several CDs to his name. He also produces, composes and plays with several alumni, including Joachim, Inara and Jesse Nolan ’01.
Benji Lysaght ’98 tours and records widely. He works primarily as a session player. Benji has lent his skills to the Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Beck, Father John Misty, Lauryn Hill, Sia, the Crystal Skulls and Michael Kiwanuka, among others.
Raya Yarbrough ’98 recently released a new CD, “North of Sunset, West of Vine.” She has been busy recording, playing and creating videos, and she has recently organized a string quintet with four singers to perform music she composed and arranged. Yarbrough may be best known to audiences around the globe as the singer of “The Skye Boat Song,” the theme for the hit television series “Outlander.”
Zooey Deschanel ’98 did Christmas shows at the Wiltern with longtime collaborator M. Ward; their band, She & Him, has toured widely. For this past tour, Keith Ladinsky Hollis ’93 was on keys. Keith plays with a variety of bands: in Los Angeles, on the East Coast and in New Orleans every year during the jazz festival. 
Brandon Smith ’98 has toured with Jesse Nolan ’01 and has his own project.
Miguel Atwood Ferguson ’98 has contributed to more than 500 recordings and scores for TV and film as a professional multi-instrumentalist, session musician, arranger, composer, music director, producer, DJ and orchestral conductor. He has worked with notable musicians such as Ray Charles, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Bilal, Seu Jorge and Thundercat.
Evan Francis ’98 is composing, singing and performing on saxophone, flute, clarinet, congas and bongo. Evan has performed, recorded and toured around the world with notables like Stevie Wonder, Michael Bublé, Taylor Eigsti, Helen Sung, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Lyrics Born, Talib Kweli, Art Davis and many more. His flute and saxophone playing were featured on the Grammy-winning debut record of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra in 2013. His composing and bandleading skills have been employed on various projects, including Spaceheater’s Blast Furnace and The Evan Francis Group.
Jesse Nolan ’01, singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, is about to release his second CD as Caught a Ghost. The first CD, “Human Nature,” led to more than 40 song placements on television and film, including the title track for the series, “Bosch,” for which he received a BMI award. Jesse occasionally works with alumni Ian Sloane ’06 and Brandon Smith ’98 and Elementary School pal Stephen Edelstein.

Evan Weiss ’03 has toured internationally with the band Sparks.
Z Berg ’04, who founded the Like, is now playing with Palm Springsteen. They recently released “Hey There Cowgirl.”
Brent Canter ’04 plays guitar and composes; as a lawyer, he represents several Crossroads musicians. He has played the Friday night jazz series at LACMA.
Darren Weiss ’06 and Danny Presant ’06 worked together in PAPA, which released “Tender Madness.” Darren is now releasing an album under his own name. Danny is now writing, producing and scoring; he just wrote music for the new Pete Davidson film.
Wylie Gelber ’06 is the longtime bass player for Dawes. He signed on with the band out of high school and is heading to Nashville to start recording Dawes’ seventh studio album. He shares, “We’ll be doing it in a series of short sessions sprinkled throughout the rest of the year. We’ll be filling the remainder of time with some short touring runs to wrap up the record cycle of our last album, ‘Passwords.’”
Ian Sloane ’06 is the co-owner of Haute Mobile Disco, a professional musical cooperative that books world-class musicians to perform at private and corporate events. He also manages a post-production facility in Culver City with fellow Crossroads alumnus Micah Levin ’05. Ian says, “My Crossroads music mentors made music fun and gave me all the tools I needed to be where I am now. I still work with and make music with a lot of fellow alumni; Crossroads still plays a great part in my life.”
Henry Laufer ’08, aka Shlohmo, recently released a new album called “The End.” In the four years since “Dark Red,” Shlohmo has remained a prolific collaborator, racking up tracks with subversive legends like Joji, Corbin and Yung Lean as well as mainstream mainstays like Post Malone, Chance the Rapper and Banks.

Cary Singer ’10 has worked with Big Sean and Jhené Aiko.
Deacon Frey ’11 was a member of the Drama Conservatory at Crossroads, performing in many shows, including “Urinetown” when he was a senior. He played with many of his classmates at benefits at the Roxy, raising money for music programs at Foshay Learning Center. When his father, Glenn, passed away, Deacon was invited into the Eagles and has been touring and playing with them ever since. The band started an international tour in June.
Henry Was Fagenson ’11 is touring America as a drummer with Thumpasaurus. Their first CD features “Mental Karate” and “Dance Like It’s Your Life.”
Phil Golub ’11 is composing an opera with Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter. He performs, composes and teaches on both coasts.
Lucas del Calvo ’12 and Gabriel Greenland ’12 are currently working together in Brooklyn.
Leven Simon-Seay ’13 (aka Leven Kali) performed at the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival last year and was looking forward to a full summer of touring, including performances at Outside Lands and Woodstock 50. Leven is signed to Interscope Records and is releasing new music. He works occasionally with Sol Was Fagenson ’15Taylor Mackall ’15Zack Sekoff ’14 and Cam Johnson ’11.
Zack Sekoff ’14 has moved back to Los Angeles and is producing and writing. He works with Thundercat, Leven Simon-Seay ’13 and many other musicians in the funk-soul-jazz tradition.
Zach Tabori ’14 is a singer and songwriter who is opening for Blac Rabbit. He is playing in several bands, including with Lenny Kloser ’14 in Kid Bloom, which has played the Greek Theatre and released well-received recordings. Cam Johnson ’11 plays drums with Zach.
Owen Thiele ’14 has produced several songs with Molly Gordon ’13Taylor Mackall ’15 and others. He has also written with Janelle Monae. He is currently writing and acting but will return to music shortly.
Daniel Memmi ’15 is producing and writing, as is Blake Slatkin ’16Sol Was Fagenson ’15 plays with Felly and Hablot Brown and tours with Leven Simon-Seay ’13. Bella Porter ’15 has released her own CD, performs locally and is finishing college at USC.
We know this isn’t the complete list of Crossroads alumni who rock. Notice an omission? Have an update? Contact us at CrossroadsAlumni@xrds.org.


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