2014 Special Guests
Special guests for 2015 will be announced in the fall.
Berklee’s 20th Anniversary Encore Gala featured master of ceremonies Jamie Lee Curtis, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and Fred Wesley, best known for his work with James Brown. Rising bluegrass sensation Sierra Hull '11, Tower of Power lead singer Ray Greene'96, and Grammy-winning American zydeco musician Terrance Simien also performed.
Jamie Lee Curtis, Master of Ceremonies
Acclaimed actress and best-selling children’s author Jamie Lee Curtis has appeared in many popular films, including A Fish Called Wanda, Freaky Friday, True Lies, Halloween, and Trading Places, among many others. After beginning her career as “the scream queen,” starring in several popular horror movies, Curtis went on to find screen success in several genres, drawing a half-dozen Golden Globe nominations and winning two for her work on True Lies and the TV series Anything But Love.
Curtis has written many children’s books that have populated the New York Times bestseller list, including My Brave Year of Firsts, Big Words for Little People, and Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day. Curtis appears in advertisements and is a blogger for the Huffington Post. She is married to actor, screenwriter, director, and Berklee trustee Christopher Guest.
George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic
Grammy-winning artist/composer/producer George Clinton H ’12 revolutionized R&B during the '70s, twisting soul music into funk by adding influences from several late '60s acid heroes. The Parliament/Funkadelic sound fueled the '70s, capturing more than 40 hit R&B singles, including three number one hits. Inspired by Motown’s assembly line of sound, Clinton gradually put together a collective of more than 50 musicians and recorded with the ensemble during the ’70s both as Parliament and as Funkadelic. While Funkadelic pursued band-format psychedelic rock, Parliament engaged in a funk free-for-all, blending influences from funk forefathers like James Brown with freaky costumes and themes inspired by ’60s acid culture and science fiction.
Later in his career, Clinton went on to work with many of the artists that he inspired over the years, such as Digital Underground, Snoop Dogg, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, and Erykah Badu, just to name a few. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Geroge performed during the Starlight Finale in the Main Ballroom.
A member of the original James Brown Band, Fred Wesley is a legendary bandleader, trombonist, and author. A forefather of funk, Wesley continues to set the standard with his jazz-funk band The New JBs. As music director for James Brown and the JBs and one-third of the amazing JB Horns, he has secured his place in funk history forever, recording on hits such as “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Mother Popcorn” and co-writing tunes such as “Hot Pants.” In addition to his work composing and arranging for Brown’s band, Wesley also performed and arranged with Parliament-Funkadelic in the ‘70s.
Over the course of his 35-year career, Wesley has played with and/or arranged for many esteemed artists, including Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Vanessa Williams, Van Morrison, and De La Soul, to name a few. Many other artists have sampled his work. Fred performed during the Starlight Finale in the Main Ballroom.
Ray Greene '96, a Berklee alumnus is a singer, producer, and instrumentalist living in Boston. He is currently the lead singer of Tower of Power first performing with the group in December 2013. While at Berklee, Ray played the trombone; this was when he was first introduced to the Tower of Power playbook. Since his time at Berklee he has played with stars such as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rick James, and New Kids on the Block. His musical styles include gospel, jazz, and the blues. Ray wrote, produced and performed his first solo album titled All About You/All About Me. Ray performed with Berklee's Tower of Power ensemble in the Funkateer Club room during the evening.
Sierra Hull is a 2011 graduate of Berklee. A rising mandolin player from Byrdstown, Tennessee, Hull started playing music at the age of eight. She performed at the Grand Ole Opry as a child and, at 16, released a debut album, Secrets. At Berklee, she was the recipient of the presidential scholarship and performed in many groups on campus. Since graduating from Berklee, she has made a name for herself in the bluegrass and country music genre, playing at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the White House. Her most recent album, Daybreak, was released in 2011. She is currently signed with Rounder Records and is in the midst of a North American tour. Sierra performed in the American Roots and Blues Club room during the evening.
Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience
Terrance Simien is a Grammy Award–winning American zydeco musician who has become one of the most respected and internationally recognized touring and recording artists in roots music today. Simien and his band have toured and performed more than 7,000 concerts in more than 40 countries around the world. His performances are lively and energetic and will surely bring an infectious energy to this year's Gala. For those not familiar with the Zydeco style, this American roots music is an important Southern black, Creole, or Afro-Creole music tradition drawing on the accordion and the Zydeco rubboard or frottoir as primary instruments. Terrance performed in the World Music Club room during the evening.