Nili Brosh was only 18 and a Berklee College of Music student when she shot to YouTube fame. In her 2007 video, she was practicing guitar in her family home in Newton, Massachusetts, playing a solo originally performed by her hero, Guthrie Govan. Two years and 120,000 views later, Brosh had attained a form of modern celebrity. She didn’t waver from her studies, though, graduating summa cum laude in 2009 even while she performed with the Nili Brosh Band in the Boston area.
A Grammy Award winner, the pianist, composer, and producer Danilo Pérez is also an educator and social activist. He is a humanitarian and a leading proponent of global jazz.
Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez learned from his father the concept of interconnected education. He attended Berklee in the 1980s and has led his own groups since the early 1990s. He has also worked as a music educator in the U.S. and around the world for more than 20 years.
Katie Thiroux graduated from Berklee in 2009 after receiving a Presidential Scholarship in 2006 and majoring in professional music. Within her first year, she gained the attention of Berklee professor and alumna Terri Lyne Carrington ’83 H ’03 and alumnus Branford Marsalis ‘80 and performed at festivals in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America, both as a sideman and as a leader.
Melissa Aldana, a rising star in the world of saxophone and the first female instrumentalist to win the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, has said she doesn’t think about shattering glass ceilings in her career. The native of Chile, who attended Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, just felt privileged to compete with “all these great young musicians.”
Composer Kazuma Jinnouchi ’02 has always dreamed of doing work that could cross cultural boundaries. After growing up in Japan and then attending Berklee College of Music, he returned to Japan to work on two Metal Gear Solid games with Konami and Kojima Productions. When he moved back to the U.S. in 2011, he was hired by 343 Industries to work on Halo 4, and though just one of his tracks was in the first volume of Halo’s soundtrack, the second volume had nine of his songs. Now, for Halo 5: Guardians, he’s composing the game’s entire soundtrack.
Before arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1993, cellist and composer Okkyung Lee said she knew little of the jazz and experimental music for which she is now known. Born in South Korea in 1975 and educated in classical piano and cello, Lee first heard of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and other jazz greats when she came to Berklee College of Music. She quickly bought CDs to listen to the music she was trying to understand.
Benji Rogers launched PledgeMusic based on the idea that music fans want to give more—not less—to support their favorite artists. The company now employs more than 40 people and launches two to three albums a day.
Drummer, percussionist, and educator Kristen Gleeson-Prata B.M. '10 has been making her mark in Los Angeles, performing with diverse acts like BØRNS, Abby Posner, Kenton Chen of The Sing-Off, and Derik Nelson of Glee.
"A lot of my gigs came about just by showing up and offering to help people. I love what I do so I just try to wake up and pursue the things that I care about. That’s definitely something I got from Berklee—just living music. It’s not something you just ‘kind of’ do, and it’s not something that you have to try to do. It just comes out of you because you love it.”
As executive vice president of Interscope Geffen A&M, Nir Seroussi is responsible for signing and developing new talent while working across the company's roster to expand artists' global reach.
Grammy-winning trumpet player Roy Hargrove ’89 studied at Berklee just as his career was taking off. Although best known for his jazz skills, he excels at any genre he touches, working with diverse artists such as Angelique Kidjo, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and John Mayer '98.
A board certified-music therapist, Ian Wilkerson '07 is the founder of Bay Area Music Therapy, an organization offering individualized music therapy programs and wellness services throughout the San Francisco Bay area.
The daughter of Donny Hathaway, the late soul legend, Lalah Hathaway has forged her own way in music, using a lovely contralto to pursue various styles that mix R&B, jazz, and pop. She's also a pianist who won three Grammys in three years: best R&B performance for “Something” with Snarky Puppy in 2014; best traditional R&B performance for “Jesus Children” with Robert Glasper in 2015; and best traditional R&B performance for “Little Ghetto Boy” in 2016.
Alan Silvestri, one of the most prolific and celebrated film composers in Hollywood, credits his years at Berklee College of Music as the impetus for his career. Life at Berklee in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he said in an interview, “was just filled with the greatest living talent in the jazz world. ... You were living in that environment and receiving as much by osmosis as by direct teaching. It had a huge impact.”
An accomplished singer, songwriter, DJ and producer, Aruna is a well known EDM singer and a fixture on the international dance circuit.
Kiesza, whose full name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, blazed into fame after her YouTube video “Hideaway” received nearly 60 million views in 2014.
After bowing out of the spotlight as a lead singer for a behind-the-scenes role as a songwriter, Justin Tranter '01 has written many songs that have become fixtures on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Tariqh Akoni '91, a session guitarist and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California, is the musical director for multiplatinum recording artist Josh Groban and has toured or recorded alongside artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, and Bette Midler.
Chilean piano player and composer Orión Morales worked with Danilo Pérez and Patricia Pérez, inspired by their work in Chile, Panama, and Boston, before being accepted to the Berklee Global Jazz Institute graduate program. Now he is the vice-chair of Projazz in Chile, the leading music institution of his country and Berklee's international partner.
Banda Magda, founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou '08 and joined by several Berklee alumni, deftly melds styles from samba to Greek folk to Columbian cumbia and has caught the attention of everyone from Kronos Quartet to Louis C.K.