Alumni Profiles

Alumni
CEO and Founder, PledgeMusic
Class of 1992

Benji Rogers launched PledgeMusic based on the idea that music fans want to give more—not less—to support their favorite artists. The company now employs more than 40 people and launches two to three albums a day. 

Alumni
Psychedelic Pop Band

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.

Alumni
Lighting Programmer, Lighting Designer

Since graduating with a degree in Music Production and Engineering, Eric Marchwinski '10 has worked lights for the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry, Usher, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, and Beyoncé, among many others, and founded his own company, Earlybird Design.

Alumni
Singer; Film Scorer; Composer
Class of 2008 (Film Scoring Department)

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.

Alumni
Class of 2011 (Woodwinds, Jazz Composition)

Latin Grammy-nominated Cuban tenor saxophonist Carlos Averhoff Jr. is a contemporary Afro-Cuban jazz composer and educator described by All About Jazz as "a dynamic, fresh new voice on the saxophone."

Alumni
Recording Engineer

"A lot of my gigs came about just by showing up and offering to help people. I love what I do so I just try to wake up and pursue the things that I care about. That’s definitely something I got from Berklee—just living music. It’s not something you just ‘kind of’ do, and it’s not something that you have to try to do. It just comes out of you because you love it.”

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
Class of 2013

When Sergio Martinez thinks of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, he thinks of his “second family.” A 2013 Berklee graduate who studied jazz performance, this Madrid, Spain, native is back in his home country teaching at Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, and trying to pass on to other students the lessons and traditions he learned from his BGJI professors.

Alumni
Saxophonist
Class of 1991 (Woodwinds)

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.

Alumni
Jazz Saxophonist; Flutist; Composer; Arranger

Jazz saxophonist, flautist, and composer Greg Abate '71 played lead alto saxophone in the Ray Charles Orchestra in the early '70s after completing his studies at Berklee, and has since recorded more than 16 albums.

Alumni
Musical Director; Guitarist
Class of 1991 (Guitar)

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.

Alumni
Drummer; Percussionist
Class of 2004 (Professional Music, Percussion)

Drummer and percussionist Demian Arriaga was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. At age 19, he moved to Boston to attend Berklee, graduating in 2004. He has performed with a variety of musicians including Iggy Azalea, Richie Kotzen, and the Jonas Brothers, among others.

Alumni
Pianist; Composer
Class of 2003 (Jazz Composition)

Born in Hamamatsu, Japan, Hiromi started piano lessons at age 6 with a teacher who taught her to focus on the intuitive side of the instrument as well as the technical. When she subsequently studied at the Yamaha School of Music, she had already learned about jazz pianists like Oscar Peterson and had written her own compositions.

Alumni
President, Geffen Records
Class of 1999

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.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Multi-Instrumentalist
Class of 1980 (Voice)

Aimee Mann discovered her voice in punk rock during her years at Berklee College of Music in the late 1970s. The iconoclastic singer, who also plays multiple instruments, enrolled at Berklee in 1978, got her Bachelor of Music in 1980, and subsequently joined the Boston punk band the Young Snakes. Her singing, performing, and recording career spans decades.

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 1968 (Percussion)

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.

Alumni
Composer; Conductor
Class of 1969 (Film Scoring Department)

Howard Shore’s film scoring resumé, containing everything from The Lord of the Rings cycle to the 2016 Academy Award winner for best picture, Spotlight, is so impressive that it might seem intimidating to music students. And yet, Shore, who studied composition at Berklee College of Music long before there was a Film Scoring Department, credits his time at Berklee with helping him get his start. “Berklee had the keys to everything I was interested in, so it was a very quiet kind of gathering up of information,” Shore said in a Berklee interview.

Alumni
Class of 2013 (Music Therapy, Songwriting)
Hannah Christianson

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.

Alumni
Guitarist; Composer
Class of 1975 (Guitar)

The bluesy style and blistering chops of Mike Stern have made him an electric guitar icon for more than four decades. An eclectic and virtuoso guitarist and composer, he first gained notice playing with Blood, Sweat & Tears; Billy Cobham; and Joe Henderson.

Alumni
Jazz Trombonist; Composer; Educator
Class of 1971 (Brass, Ensembles)
Side profile of Hal Crook playing trombone.

Award-winning jazz trombonist, composer, and former Berklee professor Hal Crook ’71 has been playing music for more than 60 years. He took up the piano at 5 years old, started composing original pieces at 8, and moved on to trombone at 12. He attended Berklee on a scholarship from DownBeat magazine and received a Bachelor of Music in arranging and composition.

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