There have been some great music duos over the years: Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny and Cher, and Hall and Oates to name a few. To find the next great duo, there is no need to luck further than the University of Miami’s music school.
Meet Jess and Adam.
Jess Nolan, a sophomore studying music business, and Adam Grossman, a sophomore studying media writing and production, are the musicians that put their heads- and names- together to become Jess and Adam. While they’ve been able to form a strong bond these past two years, there was a point where they almost didn’t get the chance to put one and one together.
Their first “encounter” was at a talent show in the UC on the second night of their freshman year.
“I had brought my guitar to the show and this girl had borrowed it and re-tuned it and I was really mad” Nolan said. “Then Adam came up to me right after and asked if he could borrow it and I said no. Like, flat out ‘NO’, so he had to go all the way back to the dorm.”
“We didn’t start off on a good note, ” Grossman noted.
Looking back, Grossman says that hearing Nolan’s music got him to seek her out and start writing with her. Things apparently clicked, and the first song they wrote together got them to win second place in the first songwriter’s showcase they ever attended, along with “audience favorite”. It was their first live performance together, too.
“The showcase is really important to us because that’s really the roots of Jess and Adam,” Grossman said.
“That’s how we started,” added Nolan.
Now they’re once again competing in this year’s Songwriters Showcase at the Frost School of Music.
The showcase is organized by Cat 5, which is a student-run music publishing company at UM. This year’s event marks the 5th songwriter’s showcase Cat 5 has put together.
10 songs, each originally written by students enrolled in the Bruce Hornsby Creative Music Program , are judged by three music industry heavyweights. This year’s judges are Chris Boardman, Cris Zalles and 3-time Grammy Award winner Jon Secada.
However, for Jess and Adam, the biggest pressure is giving it their all with this second try at the grand prize.
“There’s kind of a lot to live up to this year,” Nolan said. “Pressure’s definitely on, especially since it was our first year [during last year’s showcase].”
They do say that they didn’t go in with any expectations to win last year. They didn’t even really know what the format of the showcase would be.
This year, not much has changed. Although they now know what to expect from the show, one of those things isn’t winning. One of the cool things about Jess and Adam is that they put forth a humble attitude and speak highly of their fellow musicians also taking part in the showcase. In the end, it’s about the experience -and the music.
“I feel like our approach to it is kind of just like we’re happy we got in,” Nolan said. “We’re happy about the show; we’re excited for the show. We’re not thinking about past the show right now.”
“Just to be in the showcase and get that whole audience to hear your song is important.”
If you go:
David Lukens & Chris Croce
Joni Fatora & Chris Petrosino
Jess Nolan & Adam Grossman
John Nichols & Jared Dylan
words and video_hyan freitas.