Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Berklee Faculty

Berklee Faculty

Professor Jetro Da Silva: Racism Beyond the Headlines

Professor Jetro Da Silva (far right) stands with Berklee president Roger H. Brown (middle) and members of the Laboriel family.

Professor Jetro Da Silva (far right) stands with, from left: Abe Laboriel Jr. ’93, Abraham Laboriel Sr. ’72, Berklee president Roger H. Brown, and Mateo Laboriel ’03.

Jetro Da Silva is an artist, educator, producer, and researcher. Da Silva’s experience, training as a keyboardist, producer, and arranger has increased his opportunities to work with people such as: Whitney Houston, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Pastor Andrae Crouch, Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, the Pointer Sisters, Gladys Knight, Brandy, Sheila E., Namie Amuro, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Kem, Celine Dion, Patti Austin, Emilio Santiago, Monica, Mary Mary, and many others.

Last week, the Berklee community gathered to reflect and respond to developments in the Ferguson, Missouri coverage. Berklee professor Jetro Da Silva was among those who shared thoughts and personal experiences. The following post from Da Silva builds on those initial thoughts.

I remember when I first met our dear college president, Roger H. Brown. He was very enthusiastic when he found out that I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and with a great smile he said something like (I am paraphrasing here), “I have an impression that Brazil has less of the stark racism than we have in the U.S.?” I responded saying, “No, Roger—I am sorry to disappoint you, but this is not true.” I could see in his face an expression of disappointment or surprise.

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Remembering Steve Prosser

Last week, Berklee lost an incredible educator, musician, and friend with the death of Steve Prosser. Like most, I learned of Steve’s passing late Wednesday night when students, fellow instructors, and friends of Steve began flooding facebook with their memories of Steve and also their sorrow at his passing. The huge outpouring of love for Steve that I’ve seen on social media is a testament to Steve’s excellence as a musician and professor at Berklee, but also of his character and larger than life personality.

While I only took one semester of ear training with Steve, I consider that time in his class an honor. Steve Prosser has been a legend at Berklee for quite some time now, and all my upper-semester friends insisted that I take ear training with him when given the chance. And sure enough,I found Steve to be just as humorous, passionate about teaching, and genuinely invested in his students as everyone had raved he would be.

Of all his attributes, I was probably most fond of Steve’s desire that his students be more than just skilled musicians, but concerned individuals about the world around us. Almost every class we would talk about the current news of the day, Berklee or otherwise, and I’ll never forget his voracious appetite for knowledge and his interest in learning more about all his students and the different cultural backgrounds we all came from. Even when we practiced dictations, Steve would pick music in a foreign language, frequently from scores to foreign language films, to help our class broaden our musical palettes. Of course, Steve is well-known for his humor too, and his anecdotes about Steve Jobs, the Fens in the 80’s, and well, everything in the 80’s, are still some of my fondest memories from his class.

Like many students, I knew Steve Prosser wasn’t well, as he had to cancel many of our classes due to health issues. But I was encouraged when I saw him on the sidewalk near the 150 building not even two weeks ago, looking healthy as ever and walking with an elderly man down Boylston Street. I can’t think of a better memory of Steve as my last than him selflessly assisting his fellow man and taking his time to enjoy every second of his conversation with his companion on a chilly Boston day.

Because the news of his passing and the collective memory of Steve has only been shared through closed social media platforms, Berklee-Blogs would like to invite the Berklee community to share their memories of Steve here for us all to mourn his passing together and also cherish the life he lived.

Rest in peace, Steve. Rest in peace.

– Elisa Rice

 

Post script — Kristine Adams, Steve Prosser’s ex-wife and fellow Berklee faculty member, has been gracious enough to share some unpublished photos of Steve.

Steve Prosser and his mother, Betty, at his marriage to Kristine Adams. Kristine writes “He loved his mother very much and I know he would want to have her be part of any memorial.”

 

Steve Prosser and Berklee faculty member Paul Del Nero playing at concert directed by Ken Pullig in Boston.

 

Steve Prosser and his Jazz Choir (including current Berklee faculty Charlie Sorrento, Gaye Tolan Hatfield, and Kristine Adams and Berklee alumnae Camille Schmidt, Randy Crenshaw, and Bill “Orange” Lyons) at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1982 for Ted Kennedy’s 50th birthday party.

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