Special Guests

Berklee’s 2019 annual Encore Gala featured the following special guests.

Starlight Finale Performer: Chaka Khan '04H

Chaka Khan performed in the Main Ballroom.

A 10-time Grammy Award–winning artist and 2004 Berklee honorary degree recipient, Khan will bring the dance party with hit songs “I Feel for You,” “Tell Me Something Good,” “I’m Every Woman,” and “Ain’t Nobody,” to name a few. A singer-songwriter, actor, author, philanthropist, entrepreneur and activist, she has influenced generations of music creators during her four decades as an artist.  

During her legendary career, the Queen of Funk has released 22 albums and racked up 10 No. 1 songs on the Billboard charts, seven RIAA-certified gold singles, and 10 RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums. In 2011, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2012.

Music Room Performer: Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash performed in the Hip-Hop/Soul/R&B Mixtape room.

Emerging from the South Bronx in the early 1970s, Grandmaster Flash is inarguably one of hip-hop’s original innovators. In the earliest days of the genre, he manipulated music by placing his fingers on the vinyl, perfected beat looping, and discovered many of the iconic beats still commonly sampled today. It’s no surprise that the New York Times calls him hip-hop’s first virtuoso.

Today, Grandmaster Flash is the voice of an entire generation of 1970s hip-hop pioneers. From his electric live shows to his production role on Netflix’s The Get Down, he's at once a historian, a storyteller, and a cultural force.

Music Room Performer: Livingston Taylor

Livingston Taylor performed in the Roots and Branches room.

Taylor picked up his first guitar at the age of 13, which began a 50-year career that has encompassed performance, songwriting, and teaching. Born in Boston and raised in North Carolina, he's the fourth child in a very musical family that includes Alex, James, Kate, and Hugh. He recorded his first record at the age of 18 and has continued to create well-crafted, introspective, and original songs that have earned him listeners worldwide.

From top 40 hits “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman,” the last two recorded by his brother James, Taylor’s creative output has continued unabated.

He is a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught a Stage Performance course since 1989. Former students include Charlie Puth, Liz Longley, and Gavin DeGraw.