Berklee Celebrates Canadian Students at Cafe 939

By 
Joyce Linehan
October 28, 2009
Samantha Schultz
Matthew Genovese
Ivonne Hernandez
Photo by Irene Spelliscy

Berklee College of Music presents a special showcase featuring promising young Berklee students who hail from Canada, at Cafe 939 on Oct. 28. Cafe 939 shows are all ages. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $20 (free for students with valid student ID). For tickets or more information, call 617 923-8487 or visit berklee.edu/events. For more information about Cafe 939, visit cafe939.com.

Berklee College of Music has long enjoyed a reputation for drawing students from all over the world, representing more than 70 countries. Recently, the number of Canadian students has risen dramatically, and now it joins Japan and Korea as the most represented foreign countries at Berklee. 

Slaight Family Scholarship winners, Lucian Gray (guitar) and Samantha Schultz (voice and guitar), showcase their music for the first time at Cafe 939. Gray recently received the Rising Star award at the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. He started to play piano at age 3. By age 10, he was playing pieces by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. Recently, he sat in with Molly Johnson (Canada's jazz icon), and got numerous awards at regional and national music Festivals. This year, he was also selected as one of Young Stars to compose and perform with the Esprit Orchestra (May 2008) on electric guitar. He also spends time volunteering to teach music to underprivileged children, and donates his time to charitable organizations such as People for Education, Doctors Without Borders, Youth Link, Bereaved Families of Ontario, and War Child.

Before arriving at Berklee, Schultz made a name for herself on the Edmonton, Alberta music scene and beyond. She is a singer, songwriter, and guitar player who started making music at 11. Audiences have noted her ability to move them with high-spirited vocals or emotional ballads. Her original songs, heard on the debut CD Both Sides, are rooted in folk, blues, and soul music. 

In addition to the two scholarship winners, Berklee introduces a stunningly talented group of singer/songwriters from Canada (all current Berklee students): Keisza Ellestad (voice, piano, and guitar) will be representing Canada Day in London in June 2010; Matthew Genovese (voice and guitar) has just finished his debut EP with Justin Gray; Ali Slaight (voice) whose The Story of Your Life achieved Top10 (Mediabase AC) status in Canada in February of this year; and Ivonne Hernandez (fiddle, step dancing, vocals, and percussion) who won the Grand North American Fiddle Championship in 2000, 2001, 2006, and 2007.

The Slaight Family Scholarship was established by Gary Slaight, for study at Berklee College of Music. Slaight, president and CEO of Slaight Communications and an Edmonton native, created the scholarship for Canadian students who demonstrate outstanding musical merit and potential. 

The Slaights, Berklee President Roger H. Brown, and representatives from the Canadian Consulate are expected to attend.