Wattstax was a historic event of soul music and soul solidarity featuring Stax
Records’ legendary roster of artists. This seven-hour concert, hailed as the “Afro-
American answer to Woodstock,” was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in
1972 in response to the Watts riots in LA. It was a peaceful, astounding, and vivid
celebration of self-expression and self-respect and allowed viewers to glimpse the
musical brilliance of the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Kim Weston, Johnnie Taylor,
the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, and Albert King.
The students of Stax Music Academy, a Berklee City Music Network site, celebrated
the 40th anniversary of Wattstax and the upcoming 20th anniversary of Berklee City
Music in a special live performance at the Berklee Performance Center on July 17th.
Grammy Award-winning artist Kirk Whalum also performed with the students,
bringing a blend of blues, gospel, funk, and soul to New England.
The Stax Music Academy is a unique learning center in Memphis that inspires
young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership
skills by utilizing music with a strong focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax
Records. Founded in 2000 with 125 young people, it has helped changed the lives of
thousands of children since. Former Summer Soul Tour performances have included
Lincoln Center in New York City, Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Kennedy Center
in Washington, D. C, and tours of Italy and Australia.
For more background, a powerful documentary, “Wattstax” (1973) by Mel Stuart
focuses on the 1972 Wattstax music festival and the African American community of
Watts in Los Angeles, California.
We sat down recently with Berklee professor, and Berklee City Music teacher Winston Maccow. He shared his experience and methods of teaching.
What did you study when you were a student at Berklee?
My major at Berklee was Jazz Composition and Arranging. I did a lot of writing. It was really helpful.
What are the age ranges of your students?
I teach high school students from 14 to 16, and Berklee students anywhere from 17 to 27.
What are some of the highlights of working with Berklee City Music students?
One of the highlights of working with City Music Students is watching them grow and watching them perform with guest artists.
How do you keep the students motivated?
One way of keeping them motivated is to find out their own interests. As a teacher I can provide materials, and I can have a structure of doing things, but sometimes the students are not up to doing what the teacher asks. So, I always find out what music they enjoy. I always ask, “What are you into? How can I work with you?” Or, I might ask them to teach me something. There’s always a way to keep them motivated and challenged.
Chicago West Community Music Center (CWCMC) participated in the launching of cultural exchange trips between Chicago’s West Side and the city of Santo Andrè, Brazil. Several CWCMC staff, youth, musicians and a local artist traveled to Brazil from March 24th through April 3rd to take part in an exchange of cultural ideas, creating music performances and producing several large scale, community-based public murals. This summer, the program will send several youth artists from Brazil to work with young people in the East Garfield Park community, participating in a music program at Chicago West Community Music Center.
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance received a MacArthur Foundation grant allowing the music teachers with Chicago Community West Music Center, Charles Li, Darlene and Howard Sandifer and two students, David Houston and Jamaal Crowder, to travel to Brazil.
City Music teachers Winston Maccow and Annette Philip had the privilege of leading a four-day master class at Network site Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center last month. The class culminated in a well-attended concert at Lincoln Park’s 750-seat auditorium. Titled “The Red Hot R&B Revue,” the performance was a huge success, combining the talents of 26 high school students playing, singing, and dancing for a grateful audience.
Here’s a short video highlighting the event. You can hear Winston and
Annette’s reaction to teaching these talented students!
Here’s what 3 students said about working with Winston and Annette:
“Working with Ms. Phillip and Mr.Maccow was truly a life changing experience. I learned so many new and useful techniques. I look forward to continuously using the things that I was taught throughout my life, and throughout the rest of my musical career!”
“Working with Mr. Winston and Ms. Annette was amazing and my favorite experience this school year! Their positive attitudes and energy that they gave off kept me coming back each morning happy and ready to work. I appreciated Ms. Annette taking the time to get the group together and praying with us before the concert, because it boosted my confidence. Their hard work and determination to help us put on a wonderful concert has inspired me to continue to develop my voice and further my music education. Also, I am planning on coming up to a 5 week summer program before I graduate for sure!”
“My take on the experience was that it was amazing. I loved working with Momma ‘Nette and Mr. Winston. I enjoyed myself so much that I am now applying to the college to get more opportunities to work with them and more people like them! That experience is one I will never forget thank you for coming and giving us that chance and opportunity!”
Live from New York … It’s Saturday night! Well, okay, we’re actually coming at you from Boston, and at the time of this posting, it’s Friday morning. But we’re feeling a big connection to Saturday Night Live as of late. Just recently, the show featured Karmin, some of our favorite alums featured in PULSE’s Practical Skills Level 1. And now … drum roll please … we bring you our newest addition to the Study Room – Practical Skills Level 2! And, as part of it, we feature another SNL star — the house band’s keyboardist, Tuffus Zimbabwe, who shares his path to success in the Career Opportunities section of the unit.
Practical Skills Level 2 helps students continue working on the real life skills that will take their music to the next level. It focuses on helping students hone their writing and communication skills, explore the different careers available to musicians, and understand the importance of defining what you and your music are all about. With plenty of videos and downloadable worksheets, the unit helps aspiring musicians to develop the tools needed to get noticed in the music industry, and to investigate potential careers in music.
Now, without further ado, meet Tuffus Zimbabwe. He is a Pianist, Composer, and Arranger and a City Music and Berklee alum. He might look familiar from his great gig as the keyboardist in the Saturday Night Live band. In this video, he shares his educational journey and how he got to where he is today.
Do you think that music has the power to heal? Then meet Sarah Blacker, a Music Therapist and Singer/Songwriter (and Berklee alumna!) who uses music in her work with people with disabilities. Learn more about what it takes to be a music therapist, and start thinking about the different ways that music can be developed into a career.
Log-in to www.berkleepulse.net to check out the rest of our career videos featuring Music Educator Darcel Wilson, Guitarist/Performer Jeff Gitelman, who’s played with the likes of David Bowie and Alicia Keys, and Chris Rival, a Producer/Engineer who owns his own recording studio in Greater Boston.
One of the great things that we take away from these career video profiles is the strong sense of identity that each of these musicians possess. Don’t you feel like you understand them or have a grasp on the direction in which they want to take their musical careers? That’s because they’ve all had to look introspectively to realize what they want to project as part of their musical identities. In the “Defining You” section in Practical Skills Level 2, you’ll learn about Marketing and Branding basics with Mike King, Director of Marketing for Berklee Media.
In the “Working With Words” section, we tackle a topic that many musicians don’t like to address: writing. Learning how to communicate your ideas and your mission effectively could get you just as far as a hit song. But we won’t have you writing novels or sappy love poems. The subject matter of this work is way more interesting, because it’s all about you.
An artist statement, biography, resume, or a blog all have some do’s and don’ts that are good to have under your belt. In this next video, Katie Barnes, City Music Boston‘s Recruitment and Enrollment Coordinator, explains the basics of a bio and how you can make it your best!
Now check out the Bio in action with these City Music students who share excerpts from their bios and tell you why it’s an important tool to have in your arsenal.
There are worksheets that go with each segment. Here’s a quick preview of what you would use when developing your bio.
Want to learn more about Berklee PULSE? Take the tour on youtube, like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter. You can find more about the Berklee City Music Program here.