Berklee Alumni Take Idol by Storm

Five Berklee graduates and a student earned the chance to compete in the Hollywood Week round of American Idol.

February 8, 2010

Five Berklee alumni and one current student are among the nearly 200 American Idol contestants to earn "tickets to Hollywood" to compete in the next round of the ninth season. The Hollywood auditions begin February 9, and will narrow the field to 24 semifinalists.

Katelyn Clampett '09, Jen Hirsh '08, Bosa Mora '09, Ashley Rodriguez '09, and Jess Wolfe '07 and sixth-semester student Justin Gray all wowed the judges in their auditions, getting the go-ahead to advance to Hollywood Week.

Rodriguez, a Massachusetts native, got her initiation to Berklee at age 16 through the City Music Program. After graduating from Chelsea High School in 2005, she earned a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee, where she studied music business/management. Since graduating, she's in Los Angeles completing an internship at Berklee's City Music Network member site.

J. Curtis Warner, executive director of Beklee City Music, had the opportunity to meet with Rodriguez recently. "She's said if it weren't for City Music, she probably wouldn't have gone to college. It allowed her to follow her dreams," he says. "City Music has clearly proven to be able to take a young person without means for college and educate them, guide them through the college process, and get national recognition and standing in the music industry."

At Berklee, majoring in music business/management gave her the knowledge to ask the right questions and helped build confidence in front of cameras and for performances and auditions, Warner notes.

Hirsh, a California native who counts jazz among her big influences, is living and performing in New York. Wolfe hails from Los Angeles and works as a booking agent and performer in New York. Both women were also music business/management majors.

Jeff Dorenfeld, professor of music business/management, notes that both Hirsh and Wolfe further realized the value of performance in a business and performance setting through his Music Intermediaries course. As the faculty advisor to student record label Heavy Rotation Records, Dorenfeld also worked with Wolfe, who was also a dual performance major, when she directed the label. "She puts a lot of energy into whatever she does. She's very driven," he says. Hirsh, meanwhile, was in the band Turkuaz, which was featured on the label's Dorm Sessions V album.

Mora, who majored in professional music, is a native Ohioan of Nigerian descent. While at Berklee, he held the post of national president of the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association.

Clampett, who hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, was a professional music major. Gray is a music production and engineering major from Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Press Coverage

From Berklee girl to 'Idol' threat (Boston Globe, February 11, 2010)

'Idol' dream begins for Chelsea's Ashley Rodriguez (Boston Herald, February 9, 2010)

4 strong 'American Idol' starters could go the distance (USA Today, February 9, 2010

'Idol' Hollywood week kicks off; some great singers to watch (Star Ledger, February 9, 2010

Columbus singer sheds shyness as 'Idol' contestant (Columbus Dispatch, February 9, 2010

Rodriguez earns spot on American Idol (Chelsea Record, January 14, 2010

Jennifer Hirsh: A second look (USA Today, January 13, 2010

Jess Wolfe: A second look (USA Today, January 13, 2010