Mona Tavakoli was crowned Little Miss San Jose in 1984, (for her riveting Persian dance performance) and since then, she has been on the fast track to stardom. Playing the drums since she was 11 years old, Mona now incorporates the cajon, jangley ankles, vocals, and wisecracks into her performances, along with her drum kit.

After a two-year stint playing Josie Bruin, UCLA’s official mascot, she helped form the Los Angeles-based band Raining Jane in 1999, releasing three studio albums since 2001 and touring relentlessly, averaging over 120 shows a year since 2004.

With Raining Jane, Mona has toured with the likes of Sara Bareilles, Rachael Yamagata and Willy Porter. Raining Jane co-wrote the song “A Beautiful Mess” with Jason Mraz which appears on Mraz’s full-length album, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things and was recently featured on ABC’s So You Think You Can Dance. “Prelude,” a song from Raining Jane’s 2008 album, Paper Nest, was featured in a particular weepy, melodramatic scene on the fifth season of Grey’s Anatomy.

In 2010, Mona co-founded the Rock & Roll Camp For Girls Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that encourages young girls to find their voices through music. An intensive one-week day camp, girls ages 8-17 learn to play various instruments, form a band, write a song, and perform at the end of week sold out showcase for friends and family. The girls at Rock Camp call her “Principal Mona”. Mona continues to contribute to music education by hosting rhythm workshops at elementary schools, summer camps, colleges, and highway truck stops.

As a solo percussionist, Mona has performed in Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland with Jason Mraz, at the George Lucas Skywalker Ranch with Lucy Schwartz, as well as at Michael Jackson’s 40th birthday party at Neverland Ranch (she fed his giraffe. It was weird). In September 2010, Mona appeared on A&E’s Private Sessions with Pat Benatar, where she performed an acoustic set of Benatar’s most popular songs alongside Benatar and her husband, Spyder Giraldo.

She continues to tour with Raining Jane and as a solo percussionist alongside acclaimed musicmakers such as Tristan Prettyman, Willy Porter, Lucy Schwartz, Lindsay Mac, Natalia Zukerman, Andy Grammer and Keaton Simmons. She recently designed her own cajon, dubbed “The MT Box” in conjunction with Kotz Cajon (www.themtbox.com). Mona is endorsed by Sabian cymbals, Vater sticks and Sennheiser microphones.

When not making music, Mona can be found getting massages in Silverlake, CA and being late for lunches with her two younger sisters.

By Amanda Waas