Berklee Hosts Inaugural BAMS CONX Conference at BAMS Fest
Berklee College of Music is honored to host the first ever BAMS CONX conference, a one-day event that connects creatives, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to amplify discussions around Black artistry, business, and culture. The public conference, which is free for all Berklee students, takes place on Thursday, June 22, at the Berklee Performance Center and David Friend Recital Hall. BAMS CONX will kick off the BAMS (Boston Art & Music Soul) Festival, an annual outdoor celebration that boasts a full weekend of performances, activities, and community engagement June 23–24 at Franklin Park in Dorchester.
The BAMS CONX lineup highlights influential voices from diverse fields, spanning performing arts, education, non-profit businesses, and social justice. Discussions focus on the intersection of art and culture, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and social impact. Notable participants include Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; acclaimed singer-songwriter Kevin Ross; Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Maimouna Youssef, who will conduct a 60-minute master class on songwriting; broadcaster Dyana Williams, co-creator of Black History Month; and Boston City Council member Julia Mejia.
“We are ecstatic and humbled to bring together so many incredible and influential members of the local community for this inaugural event,” said Toki Wright, chair of Berklee’s Professional Music Department, whose efforts helped turn Berklee’s support of BAMS Fest into BAMS CONX. “At the student level, there is an enormous value to providing opportunities for direct engagement with the community like this, and as an institution, we recognize our responsibility to help amplify voices that are often marginalized. We look forward to this and future conferences as we continue to be a strong collaborator and supporter of the BAMS Festival.”
Wright, an accomplished MC, producer, and community ambassador for the arts, will perform with festival headliner Carrington amidst an inspiring lineup of powerful performers. Additional headliners for Saturday include Ross and rap legend Grandmaster Flash, who will take the stage as part of his tour celebrating 50 years of hip-hop music. Other featured artists include Youssef, who will co-headline Friday’s performances with alternative R&B artist Zyah Belle; Berklee professor, musician, and performance poet Tim Hall; and students from the drumline and youth chorus groups from the Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music & Arts.
“BAMS Fest is more than a festival, and this partnership with Berklee and the development of BAMS CONX is further proof of that,” said Paul Willis, managing director of BAMS Fest. “We value Black artists and creatives across disciplines in Boston and beyond, and we need more spaces to connect our local impact with a global audience. This conference and our events and programming throughout the course of the year will continue to center and amplify Black voices and perspectives while also creating opportunities for connection and Black joy and imagination to thrive.”
This year marks the fifth iteration of the popular festival, with more than 15,000 people expected to attend. Conference tickets for the general public are $65; Boston high school and college students can attend for $50. Sponsorship and group rates are available. More information on BAMS CONX, including details on registration, individual sessions, workshops, and presentations, can be found at bamsfest.org. For more information on BAMS Fest and how to attend both BAMS CONX and the festival, visit blacksoulsummer.com.