Nine Arizona Artists Whose Music You Can Hear in Movies

Zella Day
Mathew Tucciarone

Arizona claims a whole list of artists who hail from, lived in, and got their starts in the state, and their music is more familiar than you might think — especially if you didn't know they're from the area. These artists have lent their music, vocals, and talents to the silver screen, both in low-budget independent films and blockbuster moneymakers. Here are nine you might recognize:

9. Zella Day – “Sacrifice” – Insurgent
This Pinetop-born singer-songwriter grew up spending time in her parents’ café/art space, whose regulars inspired her creative drive. Classic records and the surrounding nature of her town influenced her songs, which she started writing at age 9. Zella Day first gained recognition for her take on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” but with the release of last year’s Kicker, she proved her worth as an original artist. She appears on the soundtrack of Insurgent, the second installment in Veronica Roth’s dystopian, post-apocalyptic trilogy of young adult novels, with her track “Sacrifice.”

Jordin SparksEXPAND
Jordin Sparks
Glenn Fawcett

8. Jordin Sparks – “Celebrate” with Whitney Houston – Sparkle
Born in Phoenix and later attending Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Jordin Sparks won various local talent competitions and sang the national anthem for the Valley’s professional sports teams. After winning Arizona Idol, Spark caught her big break and rose to fame after winning the sixth season of American Idol at a mere 17 years old. Her debut album generated hits “No Air” and “Tattoo.” Sparks sings a duet with Whitney Houston on the single “Celebrate” from the 2012 remake of Sparkle, which chronicles the life of singer Sparkle Williams. It was the last song Houston recorded before her death.

Nine Arizona Artists Whose Music You Can Hear in Movies

7. Miniature Tigers – “The Wolf” – Easy A
Trio Miniature Tigers originated in Phoenix back in 2006, and quickly caught the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin as one of the year’s hottest up-and-coming bands. Their endearing nature — and the fact that frontman-guitarist Charlie Brand kisses either of his bandmates during each performance — make them memorable, and that earned them a spot on fun.’s tour supporting Some Nights. “The Wolf” is a track about a girl who is lusted after by many, and it plays quietly in the background of Easy A, Will Gluck’s Scarlet Letter-inspired film starring Emma Stone.

Nine Arizona Artists Whose Music You Can Hear in Movies

6. Michelle Branch – “Together” – Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Pop artist Michelle Branch hails from Sedona, where she began taking voice lessons at Northern Arizona University at age 8, composing original songs at 14, and switching to home school after her sophomore year of high school to focus on musical pursuits. Her supportive parents helped her book local gigs and even financed her independent debut album, but she signed with Maverick Records in the early 2000s and started cranking out catchy, radio-friendly songs perfect for preteen girls. It only makes sense that her song “Together” appears in the second installment of Ann Brashares’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book-series-turned-movies.

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