Slaight Scholarship Brings Canadian Talent to Berklee

July 8, 2013
Elise Boeur

Vancouver musicians Elise Boeur and Natasha Pheko have been awarded the prestigious Slaight Family Scholarship, established by Gary Slaight, for study at Boston's Berklee College of Music. Both of this year's scholars—Boeur, a fiddler who has studied and performed in Ireland and Norway, and Pheko, a vocalist who studied at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music—will attend Berklee, the world's largest college of contemporary music, this September. 

Slaight is the president and CEO of Slaight Communications, and a native of Edmonton, Canada; he created the scholarship for Canadian students who demonstrate outstanding musical merit and financial need. So far, a total of seven Canadian students, including this year's recipients, have come to Berklee through the Slaight Family Scholarship. Canadian enrollment at Berklee has almost tripled since 2005, to 134 students, making it the second-most represented country among Berklee's international student population. 

"Over the past five years, we've had the opportunity to help bring amazing talent from Canada to Berklee College of Music," Slaight said. "We congratulate this year's winners Elise Boeur and Natasha Pheko." 

A fellow Canadian, Sarah McLachlan, was also pleased to see Pheko come to Berklee: "To know that the Sarah McLachlan School of Music has launched Natasha to pursue her dreams, to benefit from Berklee's excellence in contemporary music education, with the generous support of a great Canadian philanthropist, is proof to me the power music has to create community and foster young people," McLachlan said. 

About Elise Boeur
Vancouver-based Elise Boeur's fiddle style ties together her diverse influences—Nordic, Celtic, jazz, and country music—with her signature light touch. At 14, she visited Ireland to study Donegal fiddling and the Gaelic language. Three years later, she moved to Ireland and supported herself as a busker while steeping herself in the Irish fiddle tradition. Back home in Vancouver, she studied a variety of styles at the VCC School of Music, including free improv and jazz. She later developed a fascination with Scandinavian folk music, leading her to convert one of her violins into an eight-stringed Norwegian hardingfele fiddle. In 2012, she received a BC Arts Council Professional Development grant to study traditional Norwegian music at Telemark University College, in Norway. For more information, visit eliseboeur.com

About Natasha Pheko
Born and raised in Vancouver, vocalist Natasha Pheko has been taking time to explore R&B, folk, neo-jazz, and other genres, discovering which styles best suit her voice and personality. During high school, she studied at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, a music program offered at no cost to underserved youth in Vancouver. Inspired by artists such as Lianne La Havas, Joni Mitchell, and Laura Mvula, she began writing her own material. In 2012, she cofounded the all-girl a capella six-piece group My Lovely Ladies. After months of performing and recording, the group was selected to compete on CBC's Searchlight: On The Coast. Visit Pheko's YouTube page or listen to My Lovely Ladies on Soundcloud