Donald Harrison Jr. ’81 has combined a whirlwind career as a saxophonist with establishing cultural and educational traditions in his native New Orleans, Louisiana. Known for creating nouveau swing, a jazz style that combines R&B, funk, hip-hop, and African dance, Harrison tours all over the world and has many albums and honors to his name.
An eclectic, whimsical, inventive performer and personality, Rushad Eggleston is a cello player with a difference. Calling himself the Ambassador of Sneth and Wild Cello Goblin, Eggleston improvises in fiddle styles on the cello. Now touring the world—from Italy to Belgium and beyond—as a solo performer on cello, vocals, and kazoo, he wears a jester costume and sings in his own imaginary language.
A native of Carmel, California, he attended Berklee on a full scholarship after winning a competition.
Award-winning Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara refuses to define herself or her music. She prefers to play and let her audience make up their own minds about what to call her music, saying, “It’s just the union of what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been learning.” Known for her passionate physical performances, virtuosity, and the ease with which she merges genres, Hiromi’s reluctance to use labels hasn’t hampered her ability to successfully produce and share her music with the world, to critical acclaim.
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.
Norwegian-born jazz clarinetist Felix Peikli '12 released his expansive debut album, Royal Flush, in 2015; the album features an all-alumni quintet and appearances from Lee Hogans, Marcus Miller, and Albino Mbie '13.
One year after earning a bachelor's degree from Berklee, where she majored in music therapy, Krystal Demaine founded North Shore Music Therapy Services in Beverly, Massachusetts. A board-certified music therapist, Demaine works with adults, adolescents, and children to address physical, emotional, and developmental challenges through musical exercises like drumming, singing, songwriting, and moving with music.
Adam Sankowski, a board-certified music therapist working at the Kennedy Day School in Boston—a private school for students with significant special needs, located within the Franciscan Hospital for Children—helps young, often nonverbal students find their voice through music.
Composer, arranger, and transcriptionist Adam Burgess ‘14 came to Berklee from Newcastle, Australia, to study contemporary writing and production. Before attending Berklee, he studied at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.
Matt Nakoa came to Berklee on a scholarship, and studied with songwriting greats Pat Pattison and Livingston Taylor before graduating in 2006 and continuing his career as a folk singer-songwriter.
Mads Tolling’s path was set at age 14 when his father gave him a Miles Davis cassette. The native of Copenhagen, Denmark, so identified with the freedom and spirit of ‘60s jazz that he set on a path to bend his instrument, the violin, to that music. At age 20 he came to the United States to Berklee College of Music to pursue jazz studies, graduating summa cum laude in 2003.
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.
Since graduating with a degree in Music Production and Engineering, Eric Marchwinski '10 has worked lights for the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry, Usher, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, and Beyoncé, among many others, and founded his own company, Earlybird Design.
In an earlier era, musicians came to prominence in smoky clubs in the big cities. Now online vehicles provide other channels. For Charlie Puth, it was YouTube. Already a dedicated singer-songwriter, at age 18 he started his own YouTube channel, Charlie Vlogs. Ellen DeGeneres and others noticed, and soon Puth’s songs such as “Someone Like You” became mainstream.
John Myung ‘86 studied bass guitar at Berklee and is best known as the bassist for the wildly popular progressive metal band Dream Theater.
Grammy Award–winning pianist and composer Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz—incorporating the music of the Americas, folkloric music, and world music—has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences.
Avers, from Richmond Virginia, offers an ethereal swirl of psychedelic pop, shoegaze and garage rock, featuring alumni Alexandra Spalding '09 (Professional Music) and Adrian Olsen '08 (Music Business & Management / MP&E), who also serves as producer/engineer, recording most of the album material in his studio, Montrose Recording.
Esperanza Spalding graduated from Berklee in 2005, making history upon graduation by becoming one of the youngest instructors in the college’s history. This was just the tip of the iceberg, however, as Spalding went on in 2011 to become the first jazz musician to win the Grammy for Best New Artist, beating out Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine, and Mumford & Sons.
Fully charting Mindi Abair’s career as a saxophonist would be as dizzying as reading the long lists of accolades she has garnered. Having been a saxophonist on American Idol, toured with Aerosmith, appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, played at the Grand Ole Opry, recorded multiple albums, and received several Grammy nominations, Abair is at the top of her game.
Felipe Lara, the Brazilian-American composer praised by the New York Times and other critics for his brilliant modern music, rates collaboration with other musicians the most important aspect of his work. In an interview for Berklee, he said he is fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented groups and musicians, adding: “I consider these projects my biggest accomplishments, as opposed to awards, press, and such non-musical artifacts.”
Berklee alumni and brothers James Morales '06 and Matt Morales ’08, along with David Rodriguez, make up the production team the Elev3n, whose clients include Karmin, Sean Kingston, Meghan Trainor, and Jesse McCartney.