Rick Aggeler is a Berklee alumnus (graduating as a professional music major in 2007) and the senior music director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.
As a professional music ’07 alum, going to last week’s Grammy Awards show was a dream come true. I’ve worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (specifically the Blue Hill Club in Dorchester) for almost eight years, where we built from the ground up, a full-time 1,000 square foot music clubhouse (called Studio Heat), and teach guitar, bass, drum, piano, voice, and studio lessons to kids ages 10-18. I began my journey there as a volunteer, which turned into an assignment as an off-site Berklee work study student (through Berklee’s Office of Community Affairs and Campus Engagement). Immediately after graduating (and using the business proposal I wrote as my final project for my professional music degree), I became a full-time staff member at the club.
One kid in particular, Javon “Yung Fresh” Martin, has been working with me since the very beginning. He’s recorded three mix tapes, two albums, and has shared the stage with different acts such as: Ne-Yo, Mac Miller, B.o.B, Bad Rabbits, Kid ’n Play, and has even performed at Gillette Stadium and TD Garden. Quite a career for someone who just turned 18!
Fresh has always dreamed of going to the Grammys since he was 10 years old, even so much that he wrote his goal down on a business card and left it in his wallet. After performing/speaking at a private event for Converse in the fall of 2013, he shared this card with some of their staff, one of which whom is on the board of the Grammy Foundation. Three months later, we got the call that we were invited as their guests to attend the 56th annual Grammy Awards.
We flew out the Saturday of Grammy weekend. Fresh had never been to California, so naturally we went to In-N-Out Burger for lunch. We traveled all throughout Los Angeles, ending our first night overlooking the city from the Griffith Observatory. The next day, we stayed close to the hotel (Fresh did his homework, as he’s still a senior at the John D. O’Byrant in Roxbury), and began getting dressed for the event. Converse was gracious enough to rent a town car for us to be chaperoned to and back from the Staples Center. We arrived at the event roughly an hour before. After a quick walk of the red carpet, we sat at our seats. We’ve always studied the Grammys, and been sometimes very critical of the performances. Being there live…there were no bad performances! We both sat in awe at every aspect of the show, from setting up the different bands, to coordinating all of the guests, the speeches given, EVERYTHING. While neither of us had a favorite, the Macklemore performance was exceptional live as we both got chills watching the 33 couples get married during the “Same Love” song.
Later, we would attend the official Grammys after-party. It had a roaring ’20s theme to it, and neither of us had ever seen anything like it. As acts like Ciara and Boyz II Men performed, we walked around and were awe-struck by all the different people dressed in ’20s clothing, circus-like theatrics, amazing food, and an incredible ambience. We would eventually make it home, only to find ourselves not able to fall asleep, too excited from the incredible night we’d had.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston prides itself on the relationships from our great staff that we provide to our members. Considering Fresh comes every day to the club working and studying music with myself and our amazing Berklee work-study team, it’s safe to guess he’s spent well over 10,000 hours on developing his craft. I’m very proud in how much he’s accomplished so far, and see no end to his blossoming career as a rapper. He’s just one of many kids here that work tirelessly in our studio on making the best music possible, and I’m incredibly fortunate to get to be a part of their lives and make an impact in our great community. Not a day goes by where I don’t love and appreciate every aspect of my job, and recognize that it was my education at Berklee that got me here.
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I am very happy to say that the Boys & Girls club is a great success for many children and teens who want to pursue a dream.
Great story, RIck. Thanks for giving us the up-close view of what being at the Grammys is like. Congratulations to you and Fresh for everything you two have accomplished, as individuals, as collaborators. And thank you, Rick, for working so hard to have a positive impact on the young budding musicians of Boston…and for giving Berklee students great experience as music educators. It makes such sense to me that you were there to witness the first-ever Grammy award for music educators. Maybe someday you’ll be back to scoop up a trophy yourself. Great work. It’s been amazingly gratifying to watch you evolve from first-semester Berklee student with a dream to “give back”, and to see how far you’ve gone toward achieving that goal.