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.
To some musicians, fame comes early. Then there’s the rest of your career. Sierra Hull '11, who was called to the Grand Old Opry stage as an 11-year-old to play the mandolin by international star Alison Krauss, is figuring out hers.
Vasuda Sharma was a pop star in India when she decided to come to Berklee and learn how to forge a new path.
John Mayer has had several musical lives rolled into one: a pop star, a renowned guitarist, a heartthrob, a serious student of the blues, and a gritty comeback artist who returned from a two-year hiatus because of vocal cord problems to develop a passion for the music of the Grateful Dead.
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.
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 but left a few years later to join the Boston punk band the Young Snakes. Her singing, performing, and recording career spans decades.
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.
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.
One year after earning a bachelor's degree from Berklee, where she majored in music therapy, Krystal Demaine founded North Shore Music Therapy Services in Beverly, Massachusetts. A board-certified music therapist, Demaine works with adults, adolescents, and children to address physical, emotional, and developmental challenges through musical exercises like drumming, singing, songwriting, and moving with music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ali Amr is a vocalist and qanun performer. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. Amr was honored with three advanced Marcel Khalife Competition prizes as the Best Arabic Music Performer, 2004-2007.
Tali Rubinstein is an extraordinary recorder player, vocalist and composer from Israel. Her contemporary music, unique sound, and outstanding performances make her a promising new talent in the jazz and world music scene.
John Myung ‘86 studied bass guitar at Berklee and is best known as the bassist for the wildly popular progressive metal band Dream Theater.
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.
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.