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.
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.
When we caught wind that Steve Corn’s record label, BFM Jazz, had three releases that were nominated for five Grammys this year, we had to get the story of this jazz record label that has somehow not only survived into the digital age but flourished in the pop age, and the Berklee alumnus behind it.
Makeba Riddick, an award-winning singer-songwriter and producer, is successful by any standard. She has worked with Rihanna and Beyoncé, collaborated with David Guetta and Tamar Braxton, and produced songs for Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey. With nine no. 1 records, three Grammy nominations, and one Grammy to her credit, her star continues to rise.
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.
Jazz pianist and composer Mina Yu '12, a native of Korea now based in New York, releases her debut album Papa's Records.
Eleni Arapoglou is a dynamic singer from Athens, Greece. After graduating from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Arts in drama and dance, she continued her studies at Berklee, where she obtained a professional diploma in vocal performance. While at Tufts, Arapoglou toured with the Tufts Jazz Orchestra and opened for the Roots with her band in May 2010.
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.
Jillian Butler—one of the six Boston Conservatory alumni involved in the production of Wicked—spoke to students about her industry experience.
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.
Kishi Bashi '99 is a multitalented musician whose years at Berklee infused his music with cinematic lushness. He composes on violin, and sings and writes songs blending Japanese and English, and his performances include guitar, keyboard, vocal looping, and beatboxing. His solo albums, 151a and Lighght, demonstrated his versatility. On 2016's Sonderlust, he continued to showcase his talent, with NPR’s All Music Considered, descirbing the album as a rapturous mix of '70s soft rock, disco, and synth pop.
Hailing from Havana, Cuba, pianist and composer Dayramir Gonzalez ’13 is known as an advocate for traditional Cuban music, including the danzón. He has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Havana Jazz Festival, among others. His album Grand Concourse was released in 2016 and he is the cofounder of the Art School of Contemporary Performance and Creativity. The school provides comprehensive music education to New York City elementary school students.
Musical ability and imagination plus technical finesse in the studio have turned Jeff Bhasker’s career red hot.
Since graduating from Berklee in 2006 and moving to L.A., guitarist Drew Taubenfeld has served as musical director for Meghan Trainor, Selena Gomez, and fellow alumnus Charlie Puth B.M. '13, among others. When we talked to him over the phone in June 2017, he had just started working with soul singer Leon Bridges.
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.
Saxophonist, composer, video game musician, and developer of therapeutic applications of music, Norihiko Hibino is truly a Renaissance man. Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1973, Hibino came to Berklee College of Music to pursue a career in jazz saxophone. After graduating in 1997, he began performing solo in Kansas City, Missouri, but veered into composing for video games after returning to Japan.
Game of Thrones has been a megahit on television, and in the world of music, Ramin Djawadi's score for the show has earned accolades from critics. When Djawadi, a 1998 summa cum laude Berklee graduate, first came to the college, he concentrated on guitar and wanted to perform. But Berklee broadened his perspective. “The music I was writing lent itself to film,” he said in a Berklee interview. “Film music is a big passion of mine. Berklee showed me I could do both.”
Watch a video interview with Ramin Djawadi:
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.
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.
Formed in 2012 by a team of Berklee graduates, Hexany Audio specializes in music production, sound design, and voice-over for video games.