Gillian Welch '92, celebrated for her spare but beautiful voice and lyrics expressed in Americana, bluegrass, and Appalachian music, has singled out the rewards of a simple exercise she learned at Berklee. Asked the most important takeaway, she answered without hesitation: “Object writing, no question.” A 10-minute morning exercise as a tool to stimulate creativity helped this acclaimed singer-songwriter find her unique voice.
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.
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.
The Regiment Horns is a group comprising three Berklee alumni: Sean Erick ‘06 (trumpet, flugelhorn), Kevin Lloyd Williams Jr. ’03 (flute, tuba, trombone), and Leon Silva Jr. ‘07 (saxophone). The three men met at Berklee but didn’t form the band until they had all graduated and moved to Los Angeles.
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.
Nikki Glaspie, who traveled the world as the drummer in superstar Beyoncé's all-woman backup band, has honed a clear vision of herself and others as musicians. She credits her years at Berklee, from which she graduated in 2005, and performing in Boston in leading her to that vision. When she returned to Berklee in 2012 to speak about her success as a professional drummer, producer, and arranger, she explained, "Being a musician is not only something that you do, it's something that you are." She added that it takes discipline and dedication to pursue something as complex as music.
Kevin Doucette '05 enjoys a thriving career in Los Angeles and India, working with A. R. Rahman and other notable Indian musicians.
Alex Lacamoire, who graduated from Berklee in 1995, has earned Tony Awards for his orchestration work on musicals Hamilton, In the Heights, and Dear Evan Hansen.
Jett Galindo B.M. '12 is one of the most sought-after mastering engineers in the industry, and it’s no wonder with her incredible work ethic. We managed to catch her in the studio between sessions and ask her some questions about how she ended up where she is today.
Lester Menezes '94 studied jazz composition at Berklee. He formed a trio in his name with Dominique Girod and Norbert Pfammatter, to focus on sensitively interpreting his original repertoire and later expand with music from other sources.
Jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer ’89, a two-time Grammy nominee, has built a successful career by creating unusual and compelling music with a wide range of artists, from singers such as Diana Krall '83 to bassists such as Christian McBride, and rock stars such as Sting. Since his teenage days playing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Wisconsin native Keezer has toured all over the world, playing with giants of jazz like Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny '96H, and Wayne Shorter ‘99H.
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.
Donny McCaslin ’88 is perhaps best known as the saxophonist on David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, released days before the singer’s death in early 2016. But McCaslin’s life as a musician stretches back to playing with his father’s band at age 12 in California as well as to years in the New York jazz world.
After graduating from Berklee in 2009, Philip joined the faculty and went on to found the college’s Indian Ensemble, one of the largest and most diverse ensembles with more than 50 members, and direct the sold-out A. R. Rahman tribute concert in October 2014 .
Ken Ueno ’94 takes the composer’s imagination a step further than most, crafting each commissioned composition to match the very essence of the artist who commissioned it. As he puts it, "I take into consideration the specific skills of the performers and analyze them using computer technology to develop structures, form, and sounds from the analysis. When I write for myself and orchestra, I do overtone singing and multiphonics, then analyze the frequencies and create an acoustic resynthesis of some of my sounds.”
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.
Jason Eckardt, renowned as a champion of new music, credits hearing the music of Anton Webern for his conversion from a heavy metal guitarist to a composer. While at Berklee, he changed his major from guitar performance to composition, graduating cum laude in 1992. He later received a doctorate in composition from Columbia University.
Contemporary dancer Ebony Williams B.F.A. ’05, contemporary dance, has done everything from train with the Boston Ballet to perform commercially with the likes of Rihanna, Fergie, and Beyoncé in her 2009 “Single Ladies” music video.
Tali Rubinstein is an extraordinary recorder player, vocalist and composer from Israel. Her contemporary music, unique sound, and outstanding performances make her a promising new talent in the jazz and world music scene.
"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.”