It is no secret that the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the youth. The lack of social interaction, the sudden loss of close relationships and the inability to engage with communities were all factors that created a world where there was a desperate need to find joy in the small things.
For young children, those small things could quickly become vices, with those vices leading towards a downward spiral of inappropriate behavior.
However, for five local kids — Shalom Lim, Genevieve Thai, Valen Shieh, Karissa Lee and Selina Ye — that small thing ended up being their passion; music.
Each of them began playing music at an incredibly young age, a few of them even beginning at four years old. That joy for music became a collective effort when the five of them met at Clairbourn School, a coeducational private school in San Gabriel. Their friendship helped them develop into true musicians, with their taste of music becoming more refined over time.
They all fell in love with classic 80s rock; a genre that is generally considered a dying art. But with contemporary music giving songwriting a secondary role, the old classics felt more meaningful to them.
Their vision of a band started here, as Lim and Thai (both singer/songwriters) came together to form a small group. Later, Shieh (bass guitar), Lee (guitar) and Ye (keyboard) joined the group and they began to play covers of some of their favorite tunes — “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses just to name a few — during the height of the pandemic.
This is now the past for the Rooted, which has been their name since the group was founded and is meant to personify their desire to be rooted in family. No longer do they want to be remembered as the local, young band who sings old covers. Together, they want to write and perform their own music that embodies their biggest influences.
“It’s important to us to have a positive message in our music,” said bandmembers Shalom Lim and Genevieve Thai. “We frequently talk about older music having more depth and meaning, and I think as a band we really want to replicate that with our own work.”
They spent the majority of their time during the pandemic working on their own music, and the community support has continued to allow them to pursue their music career.
In Monrovia, they continue to see love from the Monrovia Street Fair Market, the city’s weekly night market where they have played and will continue to perform throughout the new year. Rooted was also invited to perform at the Boys and Girls Club of America “Youth of the Year” event, where the County of Los Angeles gave each member of the band an award of recognition.
Local performances have become commonplace for the group. They performed in 2021 as part of the Los Angeles College of Music’s summer program known as “Summer Xperience,” and they have played a majority of their shows at events for local schools.
But none of those shows may be more exciting for the young band than this weekend’s event. Rooted was invited to perform at the Asian American Expo — a popular event in Pomona to celebrate the coming of the Lunar New Year Festival — as a featured act.
“We’re very excited to support such young talent. We’re really impressed by their dedication, hard work and showmanship,” said Candice Xu, Program Manager at the Asian American Expo. “They make a great role model for other kids, and I hope everyone comes out and supports them.”
More than anything, though, the band’s biggest desire heading into 2022 is to release their first single, a song that is near completion and is expected to present the band as an upcoming and exciting musical group, both locally and nationally.
What this band is capable of musically will be the most important factor in how their story will unfold. However, reflecting on what has gotten them to this young success is what is allowing them to receive tremendous support, as the story of kids coming together to work on music during the country’s most difficult circumstance is the heart-warming story that everyone can get behind.
And the truth is, they have much more in store for them.
Come support them this weekend and at future shows:
- 2022 Asian American Expo at the Pomona Fairplex Saturday, Jan. 15 and Sunday, Jan. 16
- Fridays at the Monrovia Farmers Market where all are welcome.