Female Berklee students from countries around the world—including Scotland, Japan, the United States, Turkey, and Hungary—will showcase their formidable songwriting, arranging, performing, and producing skills at the 12th annual Berklee Women Musicians Network (WMN) concert. The show features 12 exciting and diverse acts across a wide spectrum of genres, with jazz, world, Celtic, Latin, pop, rock, and r&b all represented.
This year’s concert features a special guest duo: renowned vocalist and Berklee professor Mili Bermejo and bassist Dan Greenspan. WMN also welcomes back high-energy world beat band Zili Misik. Zili’s Kera Washington, who teaches the Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble at Wellesley College, will collaborate with an extended ensemble of students from both colleges.
WMN, under the direction of associate professor of harmony Lucy Holstedt and voice instructor Christiane Karam, is the only annual concert at the Berklee Performance Center presented by a student club. In addition to Bermejo and Zili, performers include Mariko Awada, the Folk Arts Quartet, Kana Dehara, Maureen McMullen, Julgi Kang and Rika Ikeda, Liz Barak, Leah Gough-Cooper, Ann Driscoll, Aslihan Niksarli, and Kata Kozma.
Women Musicians Network is $10 and all-ages, and begins at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston). Please call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information.
The concert shines a spotlight on female musicians, bandleaders, composers, and sound engineers, but not to the exclusion of men. Says Holstedt, "If a woman is leading a band that also has guys, terrific. This show is about inclusion. The bottom line is great music."
About the artists
Mili Bermejo is a vocalist, composer, and Berklee professor whose music blends the beautiful stories and infectious rhythms of Latin American poetry and folk with social awareness and jazz improvisation. Bermejo's latest album, De Tierra, is an expression of hope and meaning in response to the violence and instability in the world today. The music is a mix of original compositions and arrangements of work by Latin American composers and poets.
Zili Misik is a nine-piece, all-female band that bridges cultures and continents. With captivating sounds that evoke the African continent, Zili retraces routes of forced exile and cultural resistance through rhythm and song. Powerful Haitian, Brazilian, and West African rhythms infuse Zili's original and traditional folk songs. Reconnecting Haitian mizik rasin, jazz, roots reggae, samba, Cuban son, and neosoul, Zili honors its influences while creating a unique sound.
Mariko Awada is a pianist and vocalist from Gifu, Japan. Awada attended Osaka University and Koyo Conservatory before being granted a scholarship to attend Berklee. She has been studying singing, arranging, and composition at Berklee since 2007, and is a member of the Berklee Gospel Choir, the Berklee Musical Theater Club, and Boston Jazz Voices, a 19-member a cappella chorus.
The Folk Arts Quartet (FAQ) combines folk styles from the fiddle world with the heritage of the classical string quartet. The result is a new hybrid genre, “ChamberGrass.” As pioneers of this style, FAQ is gaining recognition for its musicianship and innovation. The members—Liz Davis Maxfield (cello), Ivonne Hernandez (fiddle), Julie Metcalf (viola), and Hanna Read (fiddle)—hail from Scotland, Canada, and the United States, and met while studying at Berklee.
Kana Dehara is a pianist from Osaka, Japan. At 11, she played a Mozart concerto as her first professional concert. Dehara studied classical performance at KC College in Japan, but when she discovered jazz, she was inspired to come to the United States, and received a scholarship from Berklee. She has played many concerts since coming here, including performing an original song at Carnegie Hall. Dehara is focusing on performing, composing, recording, and forming a distinct style.
Maureen McMullan is a Scottish vocalist and pianist who developed an ear for singing harmonies at an early age. McMullan has performed with Level 42, Edwin Starr, Mel B, and Billy McIsaac (Midge Ure & Ultravox), and performed at the 41st and 42nd Montreux Jazz Festival in the World Shure Jazz Vocal Competition. She is also involved in Highland Heartbeat, a live theater show that was filmed for PBS. The project includes an album and an upcoming national tour.
Rika Ikeda, a native of Japan, had taken up piano and violin by age 4. She studied classical violin at Osaka College of Music, where she received bachelor and master degrees. While Ikeda was very busy performing—solo, with orchestras, and for TV—she was also teaching at Osaka College of Music, Koyo Conservatory, and other schools. When she finished her undergraduate studies, she became more interested in pursuing jazz, and is currently studying at Berklee on a scholarship.
Liz Barak is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Before coming to Berklee, Barak lived in Israel while recording her album Pretty Wrap, a mix of folk/rock and world music. She released a single in Hebrew and the song hit number one on Israeli radio stations. Barak also lived in London and traveled in India and Nepal, where she realized music and traveling are her greatest passions.
Leah Gough-Cooper is an alto saxophonist from Scotland. Gough-Cooper has played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, the Danilo Perez Big Band, Vijay Iyer, and Fred Wesley, among other artists. At 16, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee, and is performing with the college’s top ensembles. Her playing exudes passion and effervescence; her tone is warm and sweet with an edge. Gough-Cooper also leads her own band, Human Equivalent.
Ann Driscoll is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Cincinnati who produces and plays all of the instruments on her recordings. A passionate political activist, Driscoll wrote, recorded, and edited a music video for Vic Wulsin, an Ohio Democrat who ran for Congress in 2008. The YouTube ad garnered significant media attention in Ohio. Her songs “Novelty” and “I Need a Reason” are mainstays on the iLike charts of “fastest spreading songs by unsigned artists.”
Aslihan Niksarli, from Istanbul, Turkey, started out playing piano and violin —becoming first chair in a junior Symphony Orchestra in Istanbul—before switching to percussion. She studied at Istanbul Conservatory while playing contemporary music with different bands around her hometown. She then attended fine arts school before coming to Berklee, where she studies with Kenwood Dennard and Mike Mangini.
Kata Kozma is a pianist, vocalist, and composer from Budapest, Hungary, who began studying classical piano at 5. She took up jazz at 16, and was soon gigging in jazz clubs. Kozma has won first prize at several competitions in her native country, and has written music for film, TV, and radio commercials. Currently she studies jazz piano at Berklee and leads the Kata Kozma Quintet, performing her original compositions and fresh arrangements of jazz standards.