The Envelope Please

By 
Rob Hochschild
June 15, 1998
Paula Cole
Student trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (right) trades fours with Hargrove (left) and Payton.
Berklee Director of Community Partnerships Curtis Warner joins Pritchett, BMA Director and Founder Candace Avery and Marcinuk (from left to right).

Music awards ceremonies frequently have spawned Berklee class reunions, as the college's alumni increasingly have collected nominations and awards. That was certainly the case in New York in February 1998, as nine former Berklee students were contending for a total of 16 Grammy Awards. At the top of the heap were Paula Cole, the 1990 Berklee graduate who walked away with the coveted Best New Artist Grammy, and 1989 alumnus Roy Hargrove, winner of the Best Latin Jazz Performance award.

For Cole, it was the culmination of a year that many young musicians dream about. She watched her second album, This Fire, go platinum; scored two hit singles, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want to Wait"; and earned seven Grammy nominations.

In the midst of all this success, however, Cole hasn't forgotten where she was a few years ago: working hard toward a bachelor of music degree in Professional Music at Berklee. She also had attended Berklee's 5-Week Summer Program before graduating high school. "The teachers really encouraged me, and I got a great scholarship . . . I loved Berklee," she told TV Guide in its Feb. 21 edition.

One of those teachers, Bob Stoloff, associate professor in the Berklee Voice Department, began teaching the Rockport, Mass. native when she was 16 years old.

"As soon as I heard her, I knew she was slated for something major," Stoloff said. "She was frightened and impressionable, but I could see she had talent. I just needed to make her see how strong she was."

Stoloff said that Cole's performance on the Grammy broadcast seemed influenced in part by her participation in Berklee's Vocal Summit ensemble, directed by Stoloff. "She accompanied lyrics with certain body motions and took a vocal drum break, both of which we work on with Vocal Summit."

Hargrove Spends Day After at Berklee

Roy Hargrove's 10-piece band, Crisol, earned the leader his first Grammyaward for the record Habana, a mix of Afro-Cuban and jazz styles performed by musicians from Cuba and the United States.

The day after the Grammy Awards, Hargrove and fellow Grammy Award–winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton traveled to Berklee and performed with New Life Jazz Orchestra, a Boston-based big band composed almost entirely of Berklee students and alumni and led by alumnus Kendrick Oliver. Part of Berklee's Black History Month Music Celebration, the Grammy winners soloed and later traded riffs with Berklee student trumpeters Jeremy Pelt and Rashan Ross, who performed well when standing in the spotlight with their more experienced counterparts.

A quick read of the complete list of Berklee alumni nominated for Grammy awards this year reflects the depth and diversity of talent among the college's graduates.

Faculty and Alumni Shine at Boston Music Awards

Several Berklee faculty members and alumni walked away with trophies at this year's Boston Music Awards (BMA) ceremony, which has become one of the most prestigious regional music award programs in the country. In total, there was a Berklee connection on 15 of the 38 awards handed out. Assistant professor of ensembles Walter Beasley '84, a recording artist, writer and producer for Elektra/Asylum Records, won the award for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist and Eye 2 Eye, featuring Guitar Department instructor Jim Peterson, captured the award for Outstanding R&B Act.

Other faculty members who received BMA nominations were Vocal Department Assistant Professor Mili Bermejo '84 for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist; Percussion Department Instructor Dave DiCenso for his work as drummer for Two Ton Shoe, which was nominated for Outstanding Funk Band; and Bass Department Professor Bruce Gertz '76, whose Evidence Records release "Blueprint" received an Outstanding Jazz Album nomination. Executive Vice President Gary Burton '62 also received an Outstanding Jazz Album nomination for his Concord Records release "Departure." Other Berklee alumni who won BMAs are listed below, along with a list of alumni who received 1998 Grammy nominations.

Berklee Gives a BMA to Two Young Musicians

Berklee also took a turn at giving Boston Music Awards when it handed BMA Discover Awards to two 17-year-old high school students, MishyPritchett of Roxbury, Mass., and John Marcinuk of Braintree, Mass. Berklee selected the pair after a two-month search for outstanding young musicians from Greater Boston. Each student received a full-tuition scholarship,provided by Berklee City Music, to attend Berklee's Five-week Summer Performance Program. It was the second time Berklee and the Boston Music Awards have collaborated to uncover promising new talent.

Berklee Alumni who won 1998 Boston Music Awards

  • Paula Cole '90 (four awards, including Act of the Year)
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (bandmembers: trombonist Dennis Brockenborough '91 and saxophonist Kevin Lenear '91) for Album of the Year and Video of the Year
  • Aerosmith (bandmembers: drummer Joey Kramer '70 and guitarist Brad Whitford '71) for Outstanding Rock Band
  • Laurie Geltman '87 for Outstanding Local Female Vocalist
  • Diana Krall '83 for Outstanding Jazz Album
  • Patty Larkin '74 for Outstanding Contemporary Folk Album
  • Bim Skala Bim (bandmembers: saxophonist John Cameron '80 and guitarist Jim Jones '83) for Outstanding Ska Band

Berklee Alumni who were nominated for 1998 Grammy Awards

  • Paula Cole (seven nominations)
  • Aerosmith (three nominations)
  • Reeves Gabrels '81, guitarist on David Bowie's "Earthling," nominated for Best Alternative Music Performance
  • Diana Krall for Best Jazz Vocal Performance
  • Antonio Hart '91 for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
  • Joe Lovano '72 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance
  • Alan Broadbent '69 for Best Instrumental Composition
  • Arif Mardin '61 for Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocal

Note: Alumni Pete Karam '94 was assistant engineer on James Taylor's "Hourglass," and Paul Boutin '94 was assistant engineer on Babyface's "The Day," both of which were nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.