Passion for music

The creative aspect of being a live performer and composer for TV shows and film is what La Crescenta musician David Siebels loves most about his profession.

He will be recognized for that creativity by his alma mater, Cal State University Fullerton, when he receives the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award on April 30 during a ceremony hosted by Visions & Visionaries at the Anaheim Marriott.

After graduating from Cal State Fullerton in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in music and emphasis in music education, Siebels went on to arrange and produce 27 albums, score 35 films and nine television series, conduct 65 musical variety television shows and compose and arrange two musical variety television specials.

During his career, which now spans more than 36 years, Siebels earned a Golden Angel award, a Tele award for his concept and production of Pat Boone’s 1997 album, “In a Metal Mood.” He has also conducted and played with famed artists Debby Boone, Rita Coolidge, Ray Charles, BB King, Rick Springfield and James Darren, among others.

After playing live concerts in all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries, Siebels said he has learned one valuable lesson that all musicians should understand.

“The most important thing in music is to be good at what you do,” he said. “Find a focus, and stay with that focus. Have passion for what you do. The level of success, I believe, is equivalent to the amount of passion and ability that you have.”

Milly Heaton, director of development for Cal State Fullerton’s College of the Arts, nominated Siebels to receive the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award because she felt that the musician’s passion and accomplishments throughout his career were more than deserving of the honor.

“Siebels is truly a musical genius who has achieved mega-success in his chosen profession,” she said. “Cal State Fullerton prepared him well, and, in turn, he has brought great honor to Cal State Fullerton.”

In 2009, Siebels took his career one step further. He released his first solo recording, a jazz album titled “Dave Siebels with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band,” which reached the top 40 on the jazz airway charts. Siebels said it was a life project that finally came to fruition after years of dedication to the industry.

“I’m very proud of it, and it has given me another little career as a jazz artist,” he said. “Most of my career I’ve been behind the scenes, arranging and producing for other artists. In this particular case, I’m the artist, so it’s special.”

Siebels grew up in Southern California and has been a resident of La Crescenta for more than 30 years. He said he had his first music lesson when he was just 4 years old. He grew up playing the piano, keyboard and organ with friends. By the time he was 15, he was playing professionally.

His music professors at Cal State Fullerton were a major influence on him, he said, helping him hone his craft and make industry contacts. He played in two jazz bands while at the university, which he said gave him a great foundation for much of the work he ended up conducting in his career.

After playing in just about every venue he could ever imagine — including one show on the steps of the Philadelphia Library in front of 75,000 people — Siebels said he still wants to continue reaching new heights as a composer and musician. He is working on his second album in his Burbank studio.

“I don’t ever plan to stop being a musician—it’s my life,” he said. “I love it so much, and it’s not something I ever want to stop doing unless I have to.”

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