You can find Jennifer Spingola’s music on iTunes (under her stage name Spags Music), and you might find her playing a packed L.A. nightclub or on the road with international touring acts. All of which is a long way from where she ever thought her violin might take her.
Spingola ’99 A&A was an undergrad practicing in the Music Building one night when someone slid a note under the door. Do you want to join our band? Soon she was playing local bars and fraternities, drawing cheers for her fiddle parts in popular Dave Matthews Band covers. She made her way to Southern California after graduation, balancing a day job (teaching high school music classes) and night life, as she gigged with rock and country cover bands. Spingola says she was having fun, but “I was never really fulfilled. I wasn’t getting to be creative.”
Fate intervened when her violin was stolen at a gig, and Spingola – aka “Spags” – moved home to Pittsburgh. It was a respite, not surrender: Within a few months she was back in California “with a game plan.” She wanted to do something different, something original. She booked a wedding, where she performed ceremony music on electric violin. The bride and groom loved it, and a new career was born.
Spags still plays weddings – anything from classical or Sinatra to Justin Timberlake and Dr. Dre – but has branched out to corporate events, runway fashion shows, and, lately, nightclubs, where she accompanies a DJ spinning the latest dance floor hits. “Those were nerve-wracking at first, but now those are the most fun gigs,” she says. It’s miles from teaching grade-schoolers how to screech their way through Vivaldi, but with the chance to travel, perform, and even compose original music – like her Steelers tribute “City of Steel” – her classroom days appear to be over. – RJ