Photo courtesy of USC Thornton School of Music

USC Popular Music Program students are making a name for themselves—some before they’ve even graduated. Here are six artists who are launching their careers.

Lara Johnston

is a singer-songwriter who won the grand prize in the first Unsigned Only Competition in 2012 and recently performed for Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds at the American Voices Festival at the Kennedy Center. A soul and R&B vocalist, she completed performance residencies at the Bitter End in New York and the Sundance Film Festival.

Bear Attack

includes Eric Radloff, Mia Minichiello, Nick Campbell (also a member of Mora Mora), Logan Shrewsbury and Brandon Bae. Except for Bae, who majored in studio/jazz guitar, the members of this indie band are among the first crop of graduates from the program’s class of 2013. Bear Attack members successfully funded their debut six-song EP, Shapes, through Kickstarter. Since the EP’s release in summer 2013, the hit ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars has featured three of its songs, garnering the band a global following.

Mora Mora

is composed of Matias Mora, Leland Cox, Cary Singer, Riley Knapp and Nick Campbell—all 2013 grads. Their cover of “Royals” by Lorde has been making the rounds on the Internet. The band has been described as the “sonic baby of Radiohead, Foo Fighters, MuteMath and U2.”

Alec Benjamin

has performed and recorded internationally. Often compared to Jason Mraz and Amos Lee, this soon-to-be junior frequently performs in Los Angeles and his hometown of Phoenix, and has also played in Germany and London.

Jackson Morgan

is a pop-songwriting student who in his junior year signed a significant publishing contract with Kobalt Publishing, thanks to its general manager, Sue Drew ’83. Morgan, about to start his senior year, has had songs recorded by pop powerhouses Pitbull, Nicole Scherzinger, Akon and


is an a capella group that includes Trojan Scott Hoying, the winner of NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2011. Hoying discontinued his enrollment in the program after winning the competition because of time demands on the group. Former songwriting student Ben Bram brought Hoying and Pentatonix together. Bram, who helped pilot the Popular Music Program, has become an in-demand vocal arranger and is still a primary arranger and producer for the group.

Alumni LifeArtsAlumniMusicStudents