2012’s Grammy weekend found elite Berklee alumni attending a private brunch honoring Quincy Jones and the Berklee Grammy legacy. Peter Gordon (Berklee Center – LA) and Cynthia Bethune (Director of Special Events) hosted the event, which was held at the Conga Room at LA Live, a short walk from the Staples Center where the Grammy’s are held. (Special thanks to alum Henri Yonet for the connection to the venue).
After some initial chatting and mingling, Peter Gordon welcomed us all. “We’re a small college, but have such a huge presence recognized by the Grammy awards each year. Right now is one of the most exciting times for Berklee. It’s inspiring to be a part of this community.” He then introduced King. Composed of alumna Paris Strother, her twin sister Amber Strother and alumna Anita Bias, King opened for Prince at the LA Forum last year. During their soulful set, they sang an original song, “Supernatural”, and dedicated it to Quincy Jones.
Afterwards, President Roger H. Brown took the stage. “I thought a band named King would be perfect to honor Quincy Jones,” he began. “We’re here to acknowledge the milestone of 200+ Berklee alumni winning Grammys. This year we have 30 Grammy nominations. Last year, our own Esperanza Spalding won Best New Artist, beating out Justin Beiber.” The president also acknowledged alumna Paula Cole in attendance. Cole won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1998. A few other alumni guests in attendance: Steve Vai, Terri Lyne Carrington, Keith Harris, Jeff Bhasker, Gavin Lurssen, Manda Mosher, and Ryan Shore.
President Brown explained that Quincy Jones has over 10% of the Grammy wins that Berklee claims. The late Arif Marden holds the second place for most Berklee Grammy wins. “What is so special about Berklee?” President Brown asked. “Having some of our earliest students, including Quincy Jones, helped build the reputation we have today. And with that, we’re honoring Quincy Jones with a studio named after him in the new Berklee building — Q27.”
Quincy Jones came up to accept his award. “I’m absolutely addicted to the road,” he said as he talked about his career highlight. As he spoke, his words formed nuggets of advice. “Make those mistakes. A LOT of them” and “When you go to other places, listen to the music they do. Eat the food they do. And learn 30 words in their language.”
But finally, as if to reiterate his point all along, he just said “You’ve got to go, to know“. Judging from his life successes, Jones has come a long way and he knows it.
The event closed with a special performance by Lalah Hathaway, accompanied by Paris Strother from King, to honor Quincy.