A Milestone for Singers Showcase
On December 5, 2013, a capacity crowd packed the Berklee Performance Center to mark the 30th anniversary of the Berklee Singers Showcase. According to the concert’s coproducer, Vice President for Special Programs Rob Rose, reaching the 30-year mark actually means that there have been 60 Singers Showcase concerts, one during each fall and spring semester since the inception of the series in 1983.
“When we began this, there were only about 120 vocalists in the whole college,” Rose said. “We wanted to give them opportunities to audition and to perform. Professional vocalists are auditioning constantly.” And through the decades, Berklee’s singers have recognized the value of participating in these shows. Each semester nearly 100 vocalists audition for a coveted spot in the concert.
The December 5 show celebrated the talent of student vocalists on campus as well as alumni stars who performed in the series during their college years before launching great careers. In acknowledgement of their success, video clips from their Singers Showcase performances were shown followed by current students singing songs from their catalogs.
Singer Nigel Tay—an audience favorite on December 5—gave a heartfelt rendition of “Would I Lie to You?,” which was cowritten and recorded by the late Charles Pettigrew ’84 of the hit duo Charles and Eddie. Tickwanya Jones and Choyoung Ahn sang together on “Love Is Your Color,” penned by megahit songwriter Claude Kelly ’02. Desmond Scaife Jr. gave a soulful rendition of “Smile,” which was written and recorded by Lalah Hathaway ’90. Jennifer Hoyt delivered a sultry reading of the bluesy “Just Won’t Burn” by Susan Tedeschi ’91. Aria Lanelle took on “Fairy Tale Ending,” penned by Robin McKelle ’99. Gabriela Carrillo sang “Crash Your Party” by Amy Heidemann ’08 and Nick Noonan ’08 of the pop duo Karmin. Natalia Sulca rendered “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which was a huge hit for Paula Cole ’90.
As well, alumni guest singers made cameo appearances. Deanna Della Cioppa ’96 brought the audience to their feet with her version of “And I’m Telling You.” Della Cioppa was a quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent.
Quniton “Cue” Monteiro, a teenage vocal prodigy in the Berklee City Music Program, amazed the crowd with his vocal pyrotechnics on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Daniel “Skyhigh” McClain ’04 tugged heartstrings with his soulful send-up of “You’re Still a Young Man.” He later traded lines with all the featured singers during the show’s finale, “Sign On,” which McClain penned with Philip Bailey for Earth, Wind & Fire.
Rose noted that it’s not just the student singers, dancers, instrumentalists, arrangers, and conductors who gain valuable experience working on these shows. “Look around,” he said. “Berklee students are running the sound and lights, and serving as stage crew, ushers, and more.” Rose also acknowledged the Yo Team, his faculty partners, who for decades have helped with all facets of the musical production of these and other major concerts. Joining Rose onstage for bows were professors Ken Zambello, Donna McElroy, and Tom Stein, and Associate Professor Winston Maccow.
Since its first appearance 30 years ago, the Singers Showcase concerts have become known as Berklee’s premiere vocal events and hot box-office attractions. “We’re going to keep doing these shows until they tell us to stop,” said Rose with a grin.