Hailey Niswanger’s trajectory as a jazz saxophonist resembles that of a shooting star. The young musician graduated in 2011 after studying jazz performance on a full scholarship. But by that time, she had already released the album, Confeddie, that prompted jazz critic Nat Hentoff to proclaim the 19 year old as part of the future of jazz. She had won a Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award in saxophone and played in a festival in Washington, D.C.
Panpipe virtuoso Damian Draghici ’98 swapped a celebrated music career for a seat in the European Parliament to campaign for Roma rights.
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.
For the last 23 years, Hans Schuman B.M. ’90 has been at the helm of his New York City–based nonprofit organization JazzReach, crisscrossing the nation with passion and tenacity to introduce hundreds of thousands of young people to jazz music. He’s just wrapped the organization’s 2016–2017 season of educational programming and is preparing to embark on an ambitious, summer-long capacity-building campaign that aims to take the organization into the next exciting phase of its history and mission.
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.
Born in Baghdad and raised in Amman, Jordan, Layth Al-Rubaye is a leading Middle Eastern violinist on the world music stage. Raised in a musical family, Al-Rubaye started playing the violin at the age of four and quickly began performing as a young soloist.
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.
Tanya Noel Hill’s career as a music editor for such films as Elf and The Jungle Book began with her father, who once surprised her with a guitar she coveted despite its high cost. Then a teenager, Hill was so encouraged by his support of her dreams that she pursued her musical goals and ended up attending Berklee. She majored in film scoring and graduated in 1995.
John Myung ‘86 studied bass guitar at Berklee and is best known as the bassist for the wildly popular progressive metal band Dream Theater.
Israeli saxophonist, composer, and educator Lihi Haruvi was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee while in high school. Two years after completing her mandatory military service, she pursued her studies and started her career.
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.
Drummer Harvey Mason ’68 has worked with a Who’s Who of musicians, playing with everyone from Bob James to Chick Corea to Lee Ritenour to George Benson. He has toured with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and been in the Mizell Brothers' productions with Donald Byrd, Johnny Hammond, Bobbi Humphrey, and Gary Bartz. His drum duet with percussionist Ralph MacDonald on Benson’s hit “On Broadway” shows off his style, and his beats have been samples for the Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy, among others.
Ethan Schiff gets to make dreams come true. As manager, CEO, and cofounder of New Torch Entertainment (which he created with another Berklee alumnus, Nick Susi '12), he works to help artists reach their musical and career goals. Schiff has always loved music, as well as assisting people in making their music and getting it heard, so artist management seemed to be a natural career fit.
Ali Amr is a vocalist and qanun performer. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. Amr was honored with three advanced Marcel Khalife Competition prizes as the Best Arabic Music Performer, 2004-2007.
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.
Kiesza, whose full name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, blazed into fame after her YouTube video “Hideaway” received nearly 60 million views in 2014.
Satya Hinduja ‘04, who was a film scoring major at Berklee, has studied at Berklee and Dubspot, scored films in Bollywood, DJed throughout the world, and examined neurolinguistic programming and kinesiology. Her latest project is called Alchemic Sonic Environment.
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.
Boston-based Iraqi/Jordanian violinist and composer Layth Sidiq has been featured on Latin Grammy–nominated albums and performed with some of the top people in the industry. His extraordinary skills and qualities got him a full scholarship to the master's degree program at the BGJI.
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.