Berklee Today

Berklee's Helping Hands

  Mike Dreese
  Mike Dreese
  Mark Small

Newbury Comics Honors Michel Camilo

If you lived in Boston or went to school anywhere near Boston, you know Newbury Comics. Spending time at the first Newbury Comics store, located right around the corner from Berklee, has been a rite of passage for Berklee students for decades. Mike Dreese, chief executive officer of Newbury Comics, which Dreese founded with his partner John Brusger in the late 1970s, has never forgotten that many Berklee students were among his first customers.

In return, Dreese invests his time, expertise, and funds to ensure that Berklee students receive an education that is relevant to challenges they will face upon leaving the college. Newbury Comics has donated generously to the Berklee City Music Progam, Berklee's urban outreach program; established the first scholarship fund for music therapy and music business majors; established a scholarship for music business majors to honor outgoing president Lee Eliot Berk; and, most recently, made an investment of $100,000 to establish a scholarship in honor of Latin-jazz pianist Michel Camilo. This fund will provide scholarship support for Latin musicians demonstrating financial need. Dreese was motivated by his admiration for Camilo and his commitment to make a Berklee education possible for those who otherwise could not afford to study here.

John Blackwell and company  
(from the left): Curtis Warner, John Blackwell, Roger Brown, Bill Zildjian of Sabian, and Gene Provencio of Tama Drum Company  
Farnsworth Blalock photos  

Jia Blackwell Memorial Concert

Emotion shook the Berklee Performance Center to its core on December 11, 2004. Drummer John Blackwell '95, known all over the world for touring and recording with Prince and Patti LaBelle, returned to his alma mater to host a very special benefit concert to establish the Jia Kennie Blackwell Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of his daughter, Jia, who drowned last summer. Sabian sponsored the event, with support from fellow drum products manufacturers Vater and Tama.

The sold-out show featured many of Blackwell's drummer friends, who dazzled the crowd with a creative fusion of funk, r&b, and jazz. The crowd responded with an outpouring of emotion and generosity: more than $25,000 was raised, enough to endow a scholarship fund in Jia's memory, which will provide scholarship support to a female musician at Berklee demonstrating financial need.

Donations can be made at online, or by calling 617-747-2569. Make checks payable to Berklee College of Music, and send to Attention: Marjorie O'Malley, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 .

Staying Involved

Conventional wisdom holds that when your child leaves a college, so does your affiliation to the institution. But luckily, Michael and Lois Friedman, parents of Daniel '98 and Sarah '02, are anything but conventional. Increasingly, former Berklee parents enjoy their relationship with the college and wish to continue it - even after their children have graduated. Previously, with a child enrolled at Berklee, the Friedmans established an endowed fund in memory of Solomon Munjack, Lois's deceased father, who passed on his love for music to his grandchildren. Although their children have graduated, the Friedmans recently made a very generous gift to the fund, bringing the total to more than $100,000. Berklee is grateful for the Friedman family's continued involvement and support of the college.