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Career Jam 2019: The Rundown

Students perform during the Career Jam concertBy Alma Blum

Wow! I am really crossing my fingers that everyone was able to come through to Career Jam this past Friday…

Because Career Jam was poppin’ this year! Why, do you ask? Lemme give you the rundown:

Sylvia Rhone receiving an honorary doctorate1. Sylvia Rhone

All my A&R nerds know who this woman is. I mean, this is the person who put out legends like Missy Elliot, Future, and many more. A legend who put out other legends!! I don’t know about you, but I was seriously fan-girling. Sylvia Rhone is known as the godmother of the music industry, having worked her way to becoming an influence in record labels like Atlantic and Epic records. During her interview with Danielle “Queen D.” Scott, Rhone spoke about how growing up in Harlem, N.Y.C., “gave her an advantage” because “Harlem was the soundtrack and the soul of New York City.” After leaving a banking job to pursue her passion in music, she helped the music industry recognize the potential of hip-hop.

As she was speaking to us, Sylvia Rhone said the most important words I never knew I needed to hear:

“Is my degree gonna take me where I wanna go? The answer is YES!”

Look, I think I can speak for many college students when I say one of the biggest fears after graduating college is wondering if we wasted our time studying what we did. Will we make it into the field that we want? Would it have all been worth the countless hours spent studying and devoting our lives to classes? Will we be happy and satisfied with where we find ourselves ten years after we graduated? When I heard Sylvia say those words, I felt comforted. I realized that when she said that, she didn’t mean “yeah what you studied will take you far.” She meant, if you take what you studied and apply it to all the things you desire, you will get yourself to where you want to be.

Here’s a video of Sylvia’s keynote speech:

2. A&R Panel

Okay, so clearly I had a lot of fan-girl moments during this Career Jam. Those of you who know me KNOW it’s my dream to be in A&R. So when I found out that the A&R club had this panel with some of the best A&R representatives in the country, you know your girl had to go! Take a look at this incredible group of people:

  • Sickamore – Interscope Records
  • Caroline “Baroline” Diaz – Interscope Records
  • Nikisha Bailey – Atlantic Records
  • Pete Giberga – 300 Entertainment

The thing I appreciated most about this panel was how down to earth and simple it turned out to be. Just four incredible people sitting around and sharing their passion about their craft. Every person in the room remained so attentive and alert to the conversations that were happening. It was dope just to sit and listen. The biggest moment I will never forget was when I was able to ask my question and have Sickamore lend his advice:

Q: How do you use the influences around you to help predict the next big wave in the music scene?

A: “Every A&R should have a superpower and something they have a specialty in… Focus on the things (genre) you’re good at…bet on what you do best.”

I never would have considered that while doing what I do. Also, the fact that each rep personally met with us after and just casually hung out was icing on the cake.

Students performing at the Sylvia Rhone concert3. The Concert

I’ve been to so many Berklee shows since I’ve become a student.

The energy and vibes I felt radiating off of everyone in that auditorium was something I’ve never really experienced at Berklee before. I’m not sure if it was because of the amount of industry people that were in the crowd or if it was just that kind of day, but things were different. People threw themselves into their performances. It was all so honest and the crowd was supportive and fully devoted to loving every single aspect of the show. The entire time I just felt very connected to it all. It’s a moment in an already incredible day I will never forget.

Alma BlumArtist and writer, Alma Blum grew up in Queens, New York. Always having dreamed of pursuing a career in music, Blum currently studies at Berklee as a songwriting and music business dual major. Under her music blog Natural Soul Rhythm, she has interviewed artists such as Micki Miller and Jayla Darden, as well as gained a position on Sony Music’s press list. 


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1 Comment

  1. Evelyn Woodward-Johnson

    I was in the audience at the career jam because my daughter, TK! was playing drums. After the concert, I went up to Sylvia Rhone and hugged and thanked her for being who she is and doing what she has and will continue to do. She said that the concert was, if not THE best, then one of the best concerts she’d ever seen, remarking how the students had done over 20 songs and had done them all so seamlessly.

    Way to go Berklee! Keep doing what you do!

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