From Rock to World at Women Musicians Network Concert

By
Margot Edwards
February 14, 2008
Fluttr Effect
Zili Misik
Manami Morita
Photo by Lisa Gordon
Photo by Anh Dao Kolbe
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

Berklee's Women Musicians Network (WMN) will present its 11th annual concert, Thursday, March 6, at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert includes artists in styles ranging from blues and rock, to alternative folk, jazz, and contemporary classical. The show is composed, arranged, produced, and performed by Berklee women students under the direction of faculty members Lucy Holstedt and Christiane Karam. This year's concert features a guest appearance by alumna MIDI marimba player Vessela Stoyanova with her rock band Fluttr Effect. WMN also welcomes back Boston-based worldbeat band Zili Misik.

The Women Musicians Network concert is $10, all ages, and begins at 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, located at 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Please call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information.

Women Musicians Network is the only annual concert at the Berklee Performance Center presented by a student club. The show features 13 distinct and diverse acts offering inventive, high-powered solos on piano, electric violin, and marimba; driving rock guitar and vocals; quiet moments with poignant and humorous lyrics; and exciting jazz and world-beat grooves. In addition to Fluttr Effect and Zili Misik, performers include Christina Fabi, Jelena Bracika, Emi Inaba, Helen Sherrah-Davies, Manami Morita, Britt Woollard, Nili Brosh, Ekaterini Polemis, Jenna Hardy, Nicola Bunte, and Chesca Santos.

About the artists:

Fluttr Effect's eclectic, high-energy sound is the result of fusing guitar, electric cello, drum, marimba, and sultry vocals. Comprised of Berklee alumna Vessela Stoyanova on MIDI marimba, vocalist Kara Trott, guitarist Troy Kidwell, drummer Jason Marchionna, and cellist Valerie Thompson, Fluttr Effect has been mesmerizing audiences with a sound that's easy to grasp but just out of reach. It' s not quite prog rock but one step beyond pop music. In 2004, the band released their debut CD, Trithemis Festiva, and toured the U.S. and Canada, further developing their brand of "thinkrock"-smart, haunting, unrelenting rock music. Fluttr Effect's second album, 2006's Marking Time, is a tapestry, a finely woven album of complex, playful instrumentation and insistent vocals. The album is a truly independent undertaking. In addition to composing and performing the tracks, the band raised the funds, engineered, and designed the project.

Zili Misik-led by Kera Washington, featuring bandmembers Joanna Maria; Berklee student Hinako Sato; and alumnae Rajdulari, Krystal Johnson, Joy Roster, Lexi Havlin, and Jobeth Umali; creates music that bridges cultures, generations, 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 neo soul, Zili honors its influences while creating a sound that is uniquely its own. Zili's songs are sensual, political, self-reflective, and positive, with lyrics that glide seamlessly from English to Creole to Portuguese to Spanish.

Christina Fabi, a vocalist and pianist, is one half the duo Nini&Ben, with guitarist Benjamin Gebert. Nini&Ben created their debut album, Rise and Shine, with the help of Berklee guitarist Ryo Ishikawa. Before arriving at Berklee, Fabi and Gebert traveled together through Europe and rural Australia for almost two years in an old VW doing various jobs, performing at clubs and coffee houses, writing music, and connecting with fellow musicians. This way of living inspired them to capture the most profound moments of life in their warm and expressive songs. Having left those days behind, Nini&Ben added an exciting and funky new flavor to their folky roots.

Jelena Bracika is a native of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia. In addition to being a talented vocalist, she is an accomplished actor, and has been a member of several theaters in Belgrade. Bracika, an improvisation fan who discovered jazz in school, has performed with various bands at many of the major clubs and festivals in Belgrade and Serbia. She was awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee, where she has studied voice with Lisa Thorson, Mili Bermejo, Donna McElroy, and Marlon Saunders, exploring many different styles, including a passion for Latin music. Bracika is also developing her songwriting skills.

Emi Inaba won numerous national piano competitions as a teenager in her native Japan. She moved to London in 2001 and continued to give many recitals of her compositions, both solo and with her own group, in the U.K. and Japan. Inaba's tastes extend beyond classical music to jazz and contemporary. She received WST and BEST scholarships to attend Berklee, where she is currently in her third semester. Inaba leads an eight-piece group in this concert, performing her composition "New Vision."

Helen Sherrah-Davies won a scholarship to the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, England, at the age of eight, and continued her musical education at Cambridge University. She has played in numerous concerts, from solo piano and violin recitals, to duos, quartet, and orchestras. Sherrah-Davies has taught violin at several schools, and performed in venues including Leeds Castle, the National History Museum, the Houses of Parliament, and at occasions such as the wedding of Victoria and David Beckham. After hearing jazz fiddler Mike Piggott, Sherrah-Davies was inspired to change direction, and was soon performing and recording with jazz musicians Mike Hatchard and Dylan Kay. Pursuing this new direction led her to study at Berklee on scholarships.

Manami Morita, a native of Saitama, Japan, started playing classical piano at age 4. At the time, she hated piano lessons because she wasn't attracted to classical piano. She loved to play but wanted more musical freedom. At 13, Morita discovered jazz and became addicted, even learning improvisation on her own. In 2004, Morita put aside thoughts of becoming a flight attendant or English teacher to follow her dream of playing jazz, when she received a scholarship to study at Berklee. She was recently awarded the Mary Jane Earnhart Endowed Scholarship.

Brit Woollard has been playing cello for nearly a decade, and violin for five years. She took her classical training and transformed her playing from conservatory to contemporary. Woollard's rock transformation began in late 2002, and led her to arrange Michael Kamen's Metallica S&M "One" for full orchestra and direct/conduct the piece in concert. She has also gone through timely vocal transformations. Finding her right voice led her from sounding aggressive and somewhat raspy like Scott Weiland, to emulating Bjork and Thom Yorke. Currently, Woollard studies at Berklee with Eugene Friesen and Mimi Rabson. She is also an avid artist and self-taught guitar player since 2006.

Nili Brosh began playing guitar at 12 after years of being inspired by her older brother's playing. Brosh, who studied with guitarist Joe Stump and played solo projects throughout high school, came to Berklee 2006. She soon put out a solo EP entitled The House of Tomorrow. In order to perform her original instrumental music live, Brosh formed the Nili Brosh Band with Berklee students, rhythm guitarist Sabi Saltiel, bassist Josh Kwolek, and drummer Masashi Ushijima. The band currently gigs regularly around the Boston area. A female shredder making an impression at the young age of 19, Brosh is endorsed by custom instrument maker Inspire Guitars.

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