Slideshow: Defining Traditions at Black Music Matters Concert

By 
Mike Keefe-Feldman
March 24, 2017
Patrice Rushen '05H
Left to right: Mike Mason, Stokley Williams, Patrice Rushen '05H, and Morris Hayes
Bill Banfield
Morris Hayes
Bill Banfield on guitar
Berklee Voice Department faculty at Black Music Matters concert
Patrice Rushen '05H
Stokley Williams
Berklee students Chris Conti, Emanuel Burks, and Gregory Groover
Stokley Williams performs with Berklee faculty and students
Visiting artists Patrice Rushen '05H (pictured), Morris Hayes, and Stokley Williams headlined a celebration of black American music as part of Berklee’s Signature Series at the Berklee Performance Center on March 9.
Prior to the concert, Mike Mason, assistant chair of Liberal Arts, presents the Warrick L. Carter Award to Rushen, Hayes, and Williams. The award is named after the prominent music educator who served as dean of faculty and as provost/vice president of Academic Affairs at Berklee for a dozen years.
Bill Banfield introduces the concert, saying that, as musicians, “Our goal is not to conform to the world. It is to transform the world with our artistic gifts” and to give those gifts the “oxygen of expression.”
Morris described Berklee as “ninja training” for musicians and said of his visit, “When I come back here, I want to come back as a student.”
Banfield joins the band on stage to jam. In addition to arrangements by the visiting artists, the concert featured music direction and arrangements by Voice Department Professor Gabrielle Goodman and Ensemble Department Associate Professor Winston Maccow.
Berklee voice faculty and Chief Alumni Officer Karen Bell perform a captivating a cappella rendition of Associate Professor Joey Blake’s arrangement of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”
Rushen, recipient of an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee in 2005, dazzled on the keyboards while performing her popular songs “Number One” and “Forget Me Nots.”
Williams electrified the crowd with performances of Mint Condition songs “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” and “What Kind of Man Would I Be?”
Students Chris Conti (left), Emanuel Burks (center), and Gregory Groover (right) provided the horn section along with (not pictured) Dorsey Minns and student percussionist Alexis Soto.
The concert closed out with a medley of Prince songs, concluding with one of the late great artist's signature hits, “Purple Rain.” The concert also featured a tribute to the late Al Jarreau '91H, the Isley Brothers '16H, and Chaka Khan '04H, as well as songs by Donny Hathaway and Sly and the Family Stone.
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson
Image by Kelly Davidson

On March 9, the Signature Series at Berklee presented a celebration of black American music featuring Patrice Rushen '05H, the multi-Grammy-nominated musician and composer who serves as ambassador for artistry in education at Berklee; Morris Hayes, former music director for Prince; and Stokley Williams, Grammy-nominated drummer and vocalist for long-running R&B group Mint Condition. The performance was produced by Bill Banfield, director of Africana Studies and a professor in Berklee’s Liberal Arts Department, and featured an array of faculty and student performers who brought the audience in the Berklee Performance Center to its feet.

The concert marked the 10th anniversary of Africana Studies at Berklee. Banfield introduced the show with a short video featuring footage of philosopher, social justice advocate, activist, and author Cornel West, who visited Berklee for the program’s founding a decade ago and said at that time, "We want to talk about the richest traditions in the history of modernity, and that has to do with musical traditions from people of African descent who, out of their doings and sufferings, were able to transcend and transfigure their moans and groans into an art form that all of us now must focus on. Black music matters."