Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Natalia Karaseva (Page 1 of 2)

The Next Generation of Leaders

Staff blogger Justin Johnson, Interim Systems Coordinator and Academy Assistant, from Berklee City Music, Boston, blogs about the Women’s History Month Breakfast Celebration.

The Women’s History Month Breakfast Celebration was held on a beautiful Spring morning in the David Friend Recital Hall. This annual event, presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, gives the Berklee community a chance to come together and honor the women who serve in several capacities across the institution.2013_0327_WomenHistoryBFast_03

This year’s keynote speech was given by City Music’s very own Dr. Krystal Banfield, Dean of Berklee City Music. Dr. Banfield’s speech centered on one question: How do we as professionals within a college institution prepare the next generation of leaders to address the challenges of our communities on an internal, local, regional and global scale? Dr. Banfield addressed some of the challenges we face as a society in the areas of gender equality, gun violence, and the poverty crisis. It is our duty as leaders at institutions such as Berklee to give tools and guidance to begin to guide the next generation that will help them address these challenges.

Dr. Banfield next focused on the Boston Public School district and how it is part of a trend to “actualize the village, a concerted effort to engage multiple sectors of the surrounding communities which includes colleges and universities as well as non-profit community programs to educate our youth”. Their efforts are based on a model created by the Harlem Children’s Zone; a holistic approach to rebuilding a community so that its children can stay on track through college and go on to have successful careers.

Berklee College of Music through the City Music program and the department of Community Affairs and Campus Engagement are part of the Boston movement of this initiative. The City Music program actively engages Boston youth and future leaders so that they may gain a sense of community and belonging at Berklee, while being provided a quality education from Berklee instructors. Initiatives like these are the tools we can provide the next generation so that they can become leaders and address the challenges of their communities.

Following Dr. Banfield’s keynote, the audience broke into groups where they were encouraged to share their musical journey and how it helped them to become a leader. Groups were asked to discuss how music empowered them, what their musical influences were, and to list some core values that came from those experiences.

Irma Seleman a singer, songwriter and arranger took the stage for a very energized set that went well with the message of Dr. Banfield’s speech. Irma is a second year dual major in Contemporary Writing and Production and Performance. Her music is influenced by Soul and R & B musicians such as Jill Scott, Anita Baker, and Stevie Wonder. The energy of the band sent people back to work with a smile on their face and ended the celebration on an inspiring note.2013_0327_WomenHistoryBFast_11BCMN_Anniversary_Wider

Women of the World present “Koloro” on February 25th. Interview with Annette Philip

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

Women of the World was formed to bring women musicians from across the globe onto a common platform to collaborate and create, not only through the sharing of music, but also to explore and celebrate the differences in ideologies, and cultural tenets that exist in the daily lives of women all over the world. The 10-piece core ensemble performs a varied repertoire of folk and traditional music, currently in 17 of the world’s languages. 

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Who’s Your Unsung Hero?

This blog post was authored by Alexander Polk, Interim Business Systems Coordinator, City Music, in the President’s Office of Education Outreach


The Tenth Annual Berklee City Music Unsung Heroes Breakfast can be summarized in just one word: success! From the awe-inspiring keynote speaker Will Power to the heartfelt send-off words for our beloved colleague Gerline Maldonado—staff, performers, and audience members were well engaged and filled with positive energy.

Bobby Wesley Trio cordially opened our event with several original numbers as well as a mellow Hendrix tune, “Angel.” Guests enjoyed a hot breakfast and caught up with other parents, students, and teachers over coffee. After breakfast, Berklee staff member Abria Smith shared several pieces of original poetry in both traditional and rap form. Other remarkable performances throughout the event included Josue Raymond’s Ensemble, Erica Thomas’s Ensemble from our Mentoring Program, and Chris Rivelli and Marian Wilson’s Ensemble from our Preparatory Academy. The latter performances were especially welcomed as they gave the uncommon opportunity for our younger students to play alongside our college scholars. The energy and liveliness (as well as creativity!) from their music displayed a high-level of talent and professionalism—complimenting our more experienced scholars superbly!

The highlight of the breakfast came through our speaker, Will Power. Will, an award-winning playwright and performer from the San Francisco Bay area, delighted the audience with his artistic enthusiasm. Spectators loved his animated movements, his engaging raps, his hilarious stories…but all were more impressed with his greater message: the honoring of “unsung heroes.”

Will discussed his experiences growing up in difficult neighborhoods throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, and how the arts were a medium of both expression and empowerment for him. Will noted the proximity to our national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps one of the most well known (“sung”) heroes in history. Mentions of Dr. King led perfectly to Will’s key point: although Dr. King left a remarkable legacy, he was not a perfect man; thus, we must not use our imperfections as justification for not making a difference in the world. Flawed or not, we all have the capacity to leave a legacy like Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and other “sung” yet imperfect heroes did.

Logistically and sentimentally, this event was, again, a great success! We look forward to hearing from another Unsung Hero next year!  Click here for more photos from the event.



Berklee City Music FIRSTS – Newport Folk Festival

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


Back in July, the Berklee City Music Gospel Choir performed at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival.  It was a first for Berklee City Music and its students led by Choir Director, Nichelle Mungo.  The choir spent a full day performing “Pop-Up Performances” that inspired many who happened to catch these unannounced sets which took place near the entrance gate, the main stage, the Kid’s Tent, ending with a special performance at the artists’ gate.


They were also filmed by the SOPA production company for an upcoming documentary on the Newport Folk Festival.  They appear here in this series, Behind the Walls.  Check out the video.

It was a wonderful day at the Fortress and we hope to bring the kids back to the Festival this summer.

Keynotes from Memphis

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.


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