Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Lesley Mahoney (Page 1 of 10)

Remembering Henry Tate

Henry Tate
, a professor in the Liberal Arts Department, recently passed away. The following letter to the Berklee community was written by Jay Kennedy, vice president for academic affairs/provost. 

Dear Berklee community,

It is with much sadness that I write to tell you that Henry Tate, professor and long-time Berklee faculty member in the Liberal Arts Department, has passed away. We are not sure when he died, only that his neighbors found him yesterday.

Henry was a Berklee legend, a great teacher, and an inspiration to many students particularly around the subject of art. He began teaching at Berklee in 1985 and retired last year. Simone Pilon, chair of the Liberal Arts Department, writes, “He was an exceptional teacher, a compelling storyteller, and one of the kindest, gentlest people I have had the pleasure to know. He touched countless students and colleagues during his time at Berklee. He will be greatly missed.”

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Marching in the Name of Freedom

DJThis post was written by Desmond Scaife Jr., a sixth-semester professional music major with a minor in Africana studies, who hails from Auburn, Alabama. His instruments are voice and piano. 

Recently, I attended the March on Washington: Against Police Violence, with fellow Berklee students, faculty, and staff. As an agent for change, a torch carrier for social justice, a human rights activist, a civil rights activist, a culturally-competent-literate artist, and a young black man, I understood that it was my life duty to be in attendance. While walking down Pennsylvania Ave and seeing the people of every race, color, creed, orientation, religion, and background, I was reminded of what true solidarity and equality should be like. As I saw the faces of the mothers of slain, unarmed, profiled young black men, having to muster up enough courage to speak to a crowd of thousands, trying to justify their children’s death, my heart bled. As we sang civil rights hymns on the bus and train to the march as well as while at the rally, I paid homage to those artists, entertainers, athletes, and common folk who were the voice of disenfranchised people long before we had politicians and laws to “protect us.” Unfortunately, today, that representation of those said “celebrity voices” has become almost obsolete. I challenge us all to become “social engineers,” because we have enough parasites as it is.

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STAND: Running a Student-Led Initiative at Berklee

IMGP71522.jpgThis post was written by Elena Goddard, fourth-semester songwriter, pianist, and music business/management student from Smithers, British Columbia. She is the executive coordinator of Berklee’s Student Government Association, chair of STAND, and a peer advisor. This is the first of a two-part blog post.


It all began earlier last summer. The White House contacted me (as I’m part of student government) and asked me to join them in a conference call with all Boston-area student governments to explain a new initiative. The initiative was called “It’s On Us” and was going to be aimed at raising awareness and prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. I was part of the first conference call in which they laid out the timeline for the initiative and explained the resources that were available, but what stuck with me most was the request to “personalize this initiative to your college campus.”

Berklee is all about individuality. Students at Berklee form remarkable bands, collaborate with others, and have amazing success at teams, but so much of that stems from the fact that each student here at Berklee is unique and accepts each others’ differences.

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Professor Bill Banfield: Reboot Our Codes of Social Commitment

Bill Banfield

Bill Banfield

Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, and public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.



. . . Social movements generate new knowledge, new theories, new questions. . . concrete intellectual engagement. . . for confronting systems of oppression. . . Progressive social movements. . . the best ones do what great poetry does, transport us to another place, compel us to relive horrors, and more importantly, enable us to imagine a new society .

From Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination by Robin D.G. Kelley

We’ve all been seeing in our country a televised, necessary convulsion of consciousness over the unjust killing of young black men, and talking more and more about why it’s happening at a senseless, visible rate.

Over and over we’ve seen now film images of gangs of police officers singly and together pounding, choking, enforcing brutal suppression, and more killing. And then there are the never-ending global conflicts in which murder and mangling of bodies is the tactic of terror that justifies a group’s positions of political dissatisfaction or engrained hatred. This all contributes we are sure, to a heavy feeling of human loss and doom.

What strikes my chords is that we must do things now to change the direction of our actions forward on many sides. In a conversation with a friend, I admitted my frustrations and said I believe we need a systematic reboot of our codes of social commitment. That is, how we redefine and refine how we must be in the world we live in today and beyond.

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Professor Mark Simos: Solidarity Through Song

Professor Mark Simos

Mark Simos, associate professor of Songwriting

Mark Simos is an associate professor in the Songwriting Department whose songwriting credits include Alison Krauss and Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes. A guitarist and fiddler, Simos’s writing and teaching styles both focus on diverse perspectives—honing one’s own voice, but always being open to new directions.

At a recent panel open to the Berklee community responding to the ongoing news concerning Ferguson, Missouri, two Berklee faculty members, Jetro da Silva and Mark Simos, shared a story of collaboration. The following is Simos’s account of how he came to be inspired by his colleague.

In mid-August 2014, as tragic events in Ferguson were unfolding, I was following a number of posts on Facebook, including those of my Berklee faculty colleague, Jetro da Silva. I had only met Jetro in passing, with a few polite handshakes. But I’d heard him play, and was in awe of his musicianship, as I am with so many Berklee colleagues—faculty and students alike. I remember one piece he played on piano, where my wife (at the concert with me) and I turned to each other, marveling at the deep, sonorous time he took between chords—profound, expansive, contemplative.

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