Interview: Adriana Marrero Ocasio, CMC Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator
The CMC staff is very happy to welcome Adriana to the team. She will be supporting CMC’s diverse and plentiful programs as the Program Coordinator. She will also be helping to administer the Mission District Young Musicians Program as the MDYMP Coordinator. Adriana is also a talented vocalist who performs with several local bands and has taken the stage at some of San Francisco’s most popular venues.
What’s your background?
I grew up in Puerto Rico. Both of my parents are musicians. Before I was born, my mom was a backup singer for the Fania All-Stars, a band made up of some of the best Latin Music performers during the 70’s and 80’s. My dad played música de trío, mostly boleros. I grew up around people playing music, though I didn’t start really performing music until I moved to San Francisco. I moved to San Francisco in 2011 on a whim. I met a singer-songwriter couple who used to perform at Revolution Cafe. They introduced me to their sons who invited me to join their band called Cha Ching!. I’m still a member. Since then, I’ve been in other musical projects: Soltrón, Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble, Santos Perdidos, and The Astronauts. I’ve collaborated with John Santos, John Calloway, the Funk Revival Orchestra, among others. I’m good at learning to sing music by listening, so I can sing in Brazilian Portuguese, French, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, and more! I love singing jazz and Latin music the most.
What are some of your career highlights?
I shared the stage with the California Honey Drops at the Fillmore, along with Cha Ching!. That was great. I’ve played at most venues in San Francisco, except Bill Graham Auditorium or the Warfield. I played at the Opera House for the Ethnic Dance Festival with the John Santos Sextet. I also got to perform with Cha Ching! as part of the SFJazz Summer Series for the past two years.
How did you first come to CMC?
I took vocal lessons here with Dorothy Barnhouse. I got such a good vibe from the CMC.
What drew you to the positions?
I started teaching music and movement to preschool age kids in Head Start. I wanted a job where I felt like I was making a difference in the community, enriching people’s lives, and making music accessible to people. I read the job description for the CMC positions and thought it was perfect. I am drawn to working with youth especially. I’ve been a counselor at Jam Camp WEST. I know kids can have so much musical potential, but when they get on stage they feel scared. I thought working with MDYMP would be a good place to get involved with young musicians that need support with their performance skills.
How is it going so far?
I started in July. I am excited to be CMC’s first Program Coordinator. Since it’s a new role in the organization, I’m helping to create it as I go. I am pretty adaptable and good under pressure, so it feels like a good fit. I’m excited about MDYMP starting up in September. I’ve already met some of the kids and have been talking to parents. I’m looking forward to finding opportunities to help the MDYMP kids shine! I am ready for MDYMP to start, so I can identify the needs and help the program function more smoothly.
What are you passionate about in your work?
So far in MDYMP, I’m feeling the most passionate about finding ways for the program to run more smoothly. I’m also looking forward to helping the kids with stage presence. In both my CMC roles, I want to support communication and create better systems.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to ride my bike. I like to jam with friends and my partner, who is a drummer and a uke enthusiast. I volunteer by performing at senior centers and alzheimer’s facilities. The music really makes a difference in their day.