Alumni Profiles

Alumni
Music Entrepreneur; Guitarist; Songwriter
Class of 1990 (Professional Music, Guitar)

Derek Sivers graduated in 1990 from Berklee, where he majored in professional music. He entered as a guitarist and came out a self-proclaimed “everything guy” after studying voice, composition, piano, songwriting, music synthesis, and production.

Alumni
Jazz Pianist
Class of 1989 (Jazz Composition)

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.

Alumni
Cellist
Class of 2014

A globally acclaimed Palestinian cellist, Naseem Alatrash is a sonic product of his upbringing in the Middle East. An accomplished classically trained musician and improviser in diverse styles, Alatrash has earned a reputation for fearlessly broadening the horizons of the cello on the world stage.

Alumni
Media and Operations Manager, BPMI

New Jersey native and bassist Jeff Apruzzese '08 studied music business/management at Berklee. In his final semester, he cofounded the indie-electronica group Passion Pit, and spent the next eight years playing to festivals and stadiums with the band.

 

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 1976 (Percussion)
Steve Smith’s career proves how varied a life in drumming can be. Famous as the drummer for the legendary band Journey, he has combined the rock arena life with leading a group dedicated to preserving the great jazz traditions, teaching drum clinics all over the world, recording many albums, and delving into South India’s rhythmic vocal art form called konnakol. 
 
Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Guitarist; Producer
Class of 1998 (Songwriting, Professional Music)

John Mayer has had several musical lives rolled into one: a pop star, a renowned guitarist, a heartthrob, a serious student of the blues, and a gritty comeback artist who returned from a two-year hiatus because of vocal cord problems to develop a passion for the music of the Grateful Dead.

Alumni
Class of 2012 (Film Scoring)

Film and television composer Jessica Rae Huber B.M. '12 has created additional music for projects such as The Walking Dead, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Outlander, and has worked with composer Bear McCreary as assistant composer and scoring manager for his music production company, Sparks and Shadows. "I love telling stories. It's my way to be involved in the way our culture consumes really good stories, and that's what I'm passionate about," Huber said over the phone in her adopted home of Los Angeles. "I love being a part of that process."  

Alumni
Composer; Arranger; Transcriptionist

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.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Producer

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.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Pianist
Class of 1994 (Voice, Professional Music)

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.

Alumni
Guitarist; Singer; Composer; Producer
Class of 1979 (Guitar)

Known for his virtuosity and style, Steve Vai has had a long and enviable career as a guitarist, singer, composer, and producer.

Alumni
Songwriter
Class of 2001
Justin Tranter ’01

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.

Alumni
Jazz Trombonist; Composer; Educator
Class of 1971 (Brass, Ensembles)
Side profile of Hal Crook playing trombone.

Award-winning jazz trombonist, composer, and former Berklee professor Hal Crook ’71 has been playing music for more than 60 years. He took up the piano at 5 years old, started composing original pieces at 8, and moved on to trombone at 12. He attended Berklee on a scholarship from DownBeat magazine and received a Bachelor of Music in arranging and composition.

Alumni
Bassist; Vocalist; Songwriter; Arranger
Class of 2005 (Bass, Professional Music)

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.

Alumni
Composer; Conductor
Class of 1969 (Film Scoring)

Howard Shore’s film scoring resumé, containing everything from The Lord of the Rings cycle to the 2016 Academy Award winner for best picture, Spotlight, is so impressive that it might seem intimidating to music students. And yet, Shore, who studied composition at Berklee College of Music long before there was a Film Scoring Department, credits his time at Berklee with helping him get his start. “Berklee had the keys to everything I was interested in, so it was a very quiet kind of gathering up of information,” Shore said in a Berklee interview.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter
Class of 2008 (Music Education, Songwriting)

The song “Jealous of the Angels” became a viral hit for Nashville-based singer-songwriter Jenn Bostic ‘08, racking up more than two million views on YouTube, winning five Independent Country Music Association Awards, and reaching number one on the UK singer-songwriter charts.

Alumni
Jazz Saxophonist; Flutist; Composer; Arranger

Jazz saxophonist, flautist, and composer Greg Abate '71 played lead alto saxophone in the Ray Charles Orchestra in the early '70s after completing his studies at Berklee, and has since recorded more than 16 albums.

Alumni
Jazz Trumpet Player; Fluegelhorn Player; Educator
Class of 1989 (Brass)
Ingrid Jensen B.M. '98

Trumpet and flugelhorn player Ingrid Jensen ’89 came to Berklee by way of Nanaimo, British Columbia. An award-winning musician, she has been considered a standout jazz trumpeter since the release of her first album, Vernal Fields (ENJA, 1995), which won a Juno Award. Jensen subsequently made two more acclaimed albums with ENJA and found herself in demand as a leader and a session musician.

Alumni
Orion Morales, BGJI master's degree program graduate and former fellowship award winner, 2017

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.

Alumni
Sound Designer/Editor
Gearty at the 2012 Academy Awards Ceremony.

Eugene Gearty '82 is an Oscar and Emmy-winning film sound designer and editor (Hugo, Boardwalk Empire) whose lengthy list of credits include Life of Pi, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Do The Right Thing, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.

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