Published: September 30, 2016


Photo by Rudy Espinoza

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Armen Adamian graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.A. degree in both music composition and psychology. Upon graduation, Armen began to focus on the oral folkloric traditions of Armenian music, pursuing the practice of duduk in the Armenian idiom. His ethnomusicological endeavors aim to explore the dynamics of music in the construction of ethnic, regional, and national identities while contemplating the multitude of socio-political motives in musical behavior.


Hailing from L.A., Blair Black is an avid listener of EDM [electronic dance music] and was most interested by the frequency in which House music samples black musicians during her extended stay in England. With her undergraduate degree in anthropology from UCLA, she returns to research the influence of black musicians in and throughout the history of the House genre as well as understand the cultural identities of black DJs.


Juan G Francisco Cristobal is a Guatemalan marimbist and percussionist from Alamosa, Colorado, where he graduated from Adams State University with his B.A. in music education in 2016. He was born in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala in 1992 and is of Maya Q'anjob'al descent. Juan has been playing the Guatemalan marimba for nearly ten years.





Melena Francis, born in Havana Cuba, is in the Departmental Scholar Program, which allows students to pursue B.A. and M.A. degrees at the same time. Her research will focus on the African diaspora in Cuba. She has already completed some fieldwork in Cuba on Afro-Cuban cabildos, the Abakua secret society, and cultural identity. Melena is a multi-talented percussionist who plays congas, timbales, bata drums and shekere. Melena studied privately with the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba and has toured, performed, and recorded with legendary artists such as Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Julio Iglesias, Giovanni Hidalgo, Chucho Valdes & Irakere, Francisco Aguabella, Lazaro Galarraga, Bennie Maupin, Ray De La Paz, Chino Nunez, Peru Negro, Eva Ayllone, and Oscar Hernandez. In 2016, Melena recorded with Cuba’s national treasure Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro. Featured on congas, she made history as the first female instrumentalist to ever record and perform with the Septeto Nacional de Ignaico Pineiro since their founding in 1927. Melena fronts her own Afro-Cuban jazz and salsa band, performing world-wide.


Samuel Lamontagne obtained his master's degree in anthropology at the EHESS, Paris [École des hautes études en sciences sociales. English: School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences].  He has been interested in Los Angeles' electronic music scene since 2012 and has written his master's thesis about it. As a musician, he likes to play with sounds and new types of instruments.






Simone Salmon received her bachelor's degree in music with concentrations in music theory and harp performance from UCLA (2011), and her master’s degree in musicology from the University of Oxford (2014). Upon graduating from Oxford, she served as harpist and keyboardist for the 2014 Thelma Holt International Tour’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, but soon found that her focus had shifted to music of the Middle East as she reviewed recordings of her family from Sephardic Turkey. She attempts to play the Turkish oud and additionally hosts a weekly radio show, Los Bilbilikos, in Santa Barbara on music in the Ladino and Haketia dialects of Judeo-Spanish. She has also studied the Irish harp, the Pleyel chromatic harp, the Mexican jarana, and most recently took up the Okinawan sanshin.

Simone is eager to begin working with the Sene Collection at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive under the auspices of the UCLA Sephardic Archive Initiative.