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.
We first encountered Hannah Christianson B.M. '13 at a meditative yoga class, tipped off that she may be a Berklee alumna as her ethereal vocals and soulful ukulele ushered the packed class at the Boston YMCA into a state of zen. Christianson, who also works as a teacher, producer, and performer, talked to us over the phone in June 2017 during an apprenticeship in upstate New York.
Born and raised in San Jose, California, Rohith Jayaraman is a vocalist, composer, arranger, and percussionist who specializes in Carnatic (South Indian classical) vocal music and vocal percussion. As a student at Berklee College of Music, he was also one of the early members of the college’s renowned Berklee Indian Ensemble, arranging and composing for the group. After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in music therapy in 2016, Jayaraman became the assistant manager of the Berklee India Exchange.
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.
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.
Meghan Stabile's visionary and trailblazing work as an impresario has led to a number of unusual first-time collaborations, including one between Roy Ayers and Pete Rock and another between Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and the Robert Glasper Experiment. Her Revive-Music.com is a leading platform for promoting new jazz.
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.
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.
A native of Mumbai, India, and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Clint Valladares serves as the managing director of the Berklee India Exchange. Since joining Berklee as a staff member in 2009, Valladares built capacity within the Berklee City Music Network®, a network of community organizations across the United States and Canada committed to delivering high-quality contemporary music instruction to youth from underserved communities, to create a richer consortium of like-minded organizations.
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.
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.
Gil Smith II '99 has the reputation of being the go-to music director for the live shows of multiple artists including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga as well as many K-pop groups including BIGBANG and 2NE1. We managed to catch him on the phone between two gigs, and he shared some insight on how he wound up in such an illustrious career.
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.
Known for his virtuosity and style, Steve Vai has had a long and enviable career as a guitarist, singer, composer, and producer.
Great results sometimes come through serendipitous meetings. The success of contemporary composer Roberto Toscano might be traced to an introduction to late Berklee professor Vuk Kulenovic when Toscano was a Berklee student. After that, the young Brazilian changed his direction from guitar to composing, studying intensely with Kulenovic.
Jazz percussionist and composer Marco Pacassoni has performed with Michel Camilo, Alex Acuna, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, and Steve Smith, and is an educator and author in his native Italy.
"I learned more about creative thinking at Berklee than I did at Harvard Business School,” Cassidy said, referencing the time he spent studying jazz piano at Berklee and his graduate work at Harvard.
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.
Vasuda Sharma was a pop star in India when she decided to come to Berklee and learn how to forge a new path.
After graduating with honors from Berklee, Will Calhoun '86 went on to chart-topping success with rock band Living Colour and has played with jazz icons as well as African village masters in his lifelong exploration of the ancient art of drumming.