Alumni Profiles

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Producer
Class of 1999 (Music Business/Management, Voice)
Makeba Riddick '99

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.

Alumni
Guitarist; Songwriter
Class of 2009 (Guitar)

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.

Alumni
Jazz Trumpet Player; Fluegelhorn Player; Educator
Class of 1989 (Brass)

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
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
Pianist; Composer
Class of 2003 (Jazz Composition)

Award-winning Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara refuses to define herself or her music. She prefers to play and let her audience make up their own minds about what to call her music, saying, “It’s just the union of what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been learning.” Known for her passionate physical performances, virtuosity, and the ease with which she merges genres, Hiromi’s reluctance to use labels hasn’t hampered her ability to successfully produce and share her music with the world, to critical acclaim.

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 2005 (Percussion)
Nikki Glaspie '05

Nikki Glaspie, who traveled the world as the drummer in superstar Beyoncé's all-woman backup band, has honed a clear vision of herself and others as musicians. She credits her years at Berklee, from which she graduated in 2005, and performing in Boston in leading her to that vision.

Alumni
Bassist; Guitarist
Class of 1972 (Bass, Composition)

Abraham Laboriel Sr. '72 is one of the most legendary bass players of his era, having thousands of album credits to his name playing for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, and Madonna.

Alumni
Saxophonist
Class of 1988 (Woodwinds)
Donny McCaslin '88 at the Regattabar, January 27, 2016

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.

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
Pan Flutist
Class of 1998 (Professional Music)

Panpipe virtuoso Damian Draghici ’98 swapped a celebrated music career for a seat in the European Parliament to campaign for Roma rights.

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 2003 (Percussion)

Like his dynamic drumming style, Thomas Pridgen started off strong from a very young age. At 5, he was drumming in church, encouraged by his grandmother. At 9, he won a Guitar Center Drum-Off, besting contestants decades older. At 15, he won a four-year scholarship to Berklee, the youngest recipient in its history. He graduated in 2003.

Alumni
Rock Band

The Shills, featuring MP&E grads Dave Sicilian '06 and James Zaner '06, have been a leading force in the Boston rock scene for a decade, and were recently listed as No. 1 in Vents Magazine's top-ten list of Boston bands.

Alumni
Singer-songwriter
Class of 2012

Vasuda Sharma was a pop star in India when she decided to come to Berklee and learn how to forge a new path.

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
Jazz Pianist; Composer
Class of 2012

Jazz pianist and composer Mina Yu '12, a native of Korea now based in New York, releases her debut album Papa's Records.

Alumni
Composer
Class of 2002 (Composition)

Felipe Lara, the Brazilian-American composer praised by the New York Times and other critics for his brilliant modern music, rates collaboration with other musicians the most important aspect of his work. In an interview for Berklee, he said he is fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented groups and musicians, adding: “I consider these projects my biggest accomplishments, as opposed to awards, press, and such non-musical artifacts.”

Alumni
Clarinetist; Saxophonist
Class of 1998 (Woodwinds)

When clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen is described in performance, “joy” is often the attribute mentioned. This Berklee College of Music graduate’s lyrical virtuosity and her habit of dancing, shouting out encouragement to band members, and generally having a good time are infectious. Her many awards from DownBeat magazine, the Jazz Journalists Association, and others attest to her talents.

Alumni
Guitarist/Composer
Class of 1999 (Guitar)

A member of the class of 1999 and an entrepreneurial visionary in the business of creative music and education, Prasanna was voted among the top 50 creative Indians by Open Magazine.

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
Bassist; Vocalist; Composer
Class of 2009 (Professional Music, Bass)

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.

Pages