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.
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.
Avers, from Richmond Virginia, offers an ethereal swirl of psychedelic pop, shoegaze and garage rock, featuring alumni Alexandra Spalding '09 (Professional Music) and Adrian Olsen '08 (Music Business & Management / MP&E), who also serves as producer/engineer, recording most of the album material in his studio, Montrose Recording.
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.
Maddie Rice has proven to be a young musician to watch. As a 2014 Berklee College of Music graduate with a burgeoning pop-rock career in electric guitar, she was chosen in 2015 to be part of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As a member of Stay Human, Jon Batiste’s band, Rice adds to the group’s unique blend of jazz, funk, and pop.
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 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 .
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.
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.
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.
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’ve been hearing about Beto Hale’s new studio in Los Angeles for almost as long as it’s existed. His new project's backstory can be found in what brought him from a kid banging on pots and pans in Mexico City to where he is today.
Mads Tolling’s path was set at age 14 when his father gave him a Miles Davis cassette. The native of Copenhagen, Denmark, so identified with the freedom and spirit of ‘60s jazz that he set on a path to bend his instrument, the violin, to that music. At age 20 he came to the United States to Berklee College of Music to pursue jazz studies, graduating summa cum laude in 2003.
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.
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.
Kevin Doucette '05 enjoys a thriving career in Los Angeles and India, working with A. R. Rahman and other notable Indian musicians.
As a teenager, Neil Jacobson ’99 set his sights on becoming a record label executive. After 15 years at Interscope Records, he now occupies the president's office at Geffen Records.
John Myung ‘86 studied bass guitar at Berklee and is best known as the bassist for the wildly popular progressive metal band Dream Theater.
"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.
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: