This blog post was authored by Andrew Sammut, Registrar in the Berklee City Music office.

Al Bell

Berklee City Music was honored to welcome soul music icon Al Bell as the keynote speaker for the 2012 Berklee City Music Network Conference in Memphis.  As head of promotions as well as a producer and eventually the final owner of Memphis’ own Stax Records, Bell was responsible for both Stax’s growth in the music industry and bringing the music of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers and other soul music pioneers to millions of Americans.

Speaking to the theme of the conference, “American Popular Music: The Untold Story,” Bell described American popular music’s roots in African American songs and struggles, highlighted the contributions of pop stars from over a century ago, such as Scott Joplin, and focused on the importance of authenticity and passion in all great music.

Please enjoy Part 1 of the podcast of this incredible experience, underscoring why it’s called “soul music” in the first place.



This blog post was authored by Arin Canbolat, National Field Coordinator in the Berklee City Music office.

Kirk Whalum

You know Kirk Whalum for his musicianship, 11 Grammy nominations, and his sax playing on Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”  You know him because he is successful, but you don’t know why he is successful.  At this year’s Berklee City Music Conference, held in Memphis, Mr. Whalum’s hometown, we were fortunate to have him speak about the key to breaking free and being successful.

Talking about his life and musical journeys, he told us his key to success, conviction, and how to use, nurture, and inspire this “x-factor” in the students we teach, so that they know who they are and what it is they have to share with their community and the world.  There are two types of conviction and Berklee City Music invites you to be influenced, as we were, by what Kirk Whalum shared with us about them.

Click here for Part 1 of the podcast.

This blog post was authored by Joanne Dill, Project Manager in the Berklee City Music office.

Deanie Parker

The heart and soul of Stax Records, Ms. Deanie Parker, closed out the conference with the final Keynote.  Born in Mississippi, Deanie arrived at the Stax studio on McLemore Avenue in 1963 becoming one of Stax Records’ first artists.  Deanie went on to perform practically every role, from singer, to composer, to liner notes writer, photographer, editor, publicist, press correspondent, documentalist, and most notably, the Soulsville Foundation’s first President and CEO, a nonprofit organization that helped build the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

In her Keynote, Deanie revealed to us the untold story of Stax Records, eloquently tying it to the conference theme: American Popular Music: the Untold Story  “It was the greatest music laboratory in the world”, but its story was untold until the Museum opened in 2003.  Please enjoy Ms. Parker’s take on Stax Records and how its soul continues to live on through its people, its youth, the Academy, and in partnerships such as with the Berklee City Music Network.

Click here for Part 1 of the podcast.

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