Memphis Teens Win Berklee Scholarships

By 
Nick Balkin
May 19, 2008
(from left) Marc E. Willis, president and CEO, Soulsville Foundation; Curtis Warner, executive director, Berklee City Music; teen scholarship winner Ashton Riker; David Mash, Berklee v.p for technology/education outreach
(from left) Marc E. Willis, president and CEO, Soulsville Foundation; Curtis Warner, executive director, Berklee City Music; teen scholarship winner Ricardo Canady; David Mash, Berklee v.p for technology/education outreach
(from left) Marc E. Willis, president and CEO, Soulsville Foundation; Curtis Warner, executive director, Berklee City Music; teen scholarship winner Terrell Sharkey; David Mash, Berklee v.p for technology/education outreach
Photo by Ronnie Booze
Photo by Ronnie Booze
Photo by Ronnie Booze

Memphis teens Ricardo Canady, Ashton Riker, and Terrell Sharkey were awarded full scholarships to Berklee College of Music's Five-Week Summer Performance Program for high school students, which takes place July 12-August 15 in Boston. Berklee, the world's leading college of contemporary music, is collaborating with Stax Music Academy in Memphis to identify talented and deserving teens from the after-school music program offered at the institution. This is the first time that Berklee is partnering with the academy to actively engage young musicians who represent an area of the country that is rich in soul and r&b heritage and legendary American music tradition.

The students accepted their scholarships at a presentation during the Academy's SNAP! After School Spring Concert at the University of Memphis. This summer they will spend five weeks in Boston, learning how to take their musical talents to new heights. They will take performance, music theory, and music technology classes, and choose from songwriting, music synthesis, and music business as electives.

Ricardo Canady is an alto saxophonist currently attending Central High School; Ashton Riker is a vocalist currently attending Ridgeway High School; and Terrell Sharkey is a tenor saxophonist currently attending Overton High School. Each participated in the Academy's Summer Soul Tour-to Italy in 2006, and to the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic in 2007-as well as the SoulSchool Spring Break program, an intensive three days of master classes led by world-class musicians.

Stax Music Academy is a charter member of the Berklee City Music Network, a program designed to establish beneficial relationships between Berklee City Music Boston and organizations that have a similar educational mission and commitment to helping underserved youths obtain a contemporary music education. The purpose of the network is to promote the life-changing role that a contemporary music education can play in the lives of these students.

The Stax Music Academy is a state-of-the-art facility located next door to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music at the original site of Stax Records. Its mission is to mentor primarily at-risk inner-city youths through music education and unique performance opportunities. The academy's four main programs include after-school training during the school year, a summer camp program, the SoulSchool Spring Break session and concert, and the Summer Soul Tour Presented by FedEx, which this year will take 16 academy students on a concert tour/cultural exchange experience in Australia.