Author Archives: Justine

Hip-Hop and R&B Event – Los Angeles

L-R Dawaun Parker, Makeba Riddick, Keith Harris & Carl Beatty (Chief of Staff - Berklee)

February 2012 – Berklee Los Angeles alumni gathered in the cathedral room at the Village Studios to listen to heavy-hitting Grammy winners Makeba Riddick, Dawaun Parker and Keith Harris speak about everything from artist management, to hit songs, to their career paths and aspirations. If anything was front and center during the 2-hour event, it was as Keith Harris put it…
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Berklee Grammy Reception – Honoring Quincy Jones – Los Angeles

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.


Women In Tune – Music Placement – Los Angeles

Introducing … Women In Tune! Justine Taormino and I co-founded thisalumni organization to support and promote female musicians in the Los Angeles area. Following our inaugural ladies’ hike last fall, we recently held an engaging discussion on music licensing and supervision with guests Eve Nelson and Caitlin Hill.

Berklee alumna Eve Nelson, a prolific producer/songwriter with television credits on ABC, NBC, Oxygen, and Lifetime, graciously opened her home to 20 WIT members (including a few guys … because girl power means equal opportunity!) for an evening of in-depth conversation about music licensing, publishing, self-promotion, and the creative process.
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Berklee Alumni at The NAMM Show 2012

Each year, hundreds of Berklee alumni are involved in the January NAMM show in one way or another – as performers, attendees, company owners and gear enthusiasts. Last month, I attended NAMM to try and track down some of our alumni in the grand floor plan of the show. If you’ve never been to NAMM know that it is a musician’s dream. Everything you could want from instruments, to hardware and software, to DJ, lighting rigs and smoke machines is there. Throughout the day there are demos, performances and artist meet-and-greets. It’s fantastic!

The NAMM Show is housed in the LA Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in the country, so it took a bit to get my bearings. My first connection was LA-alum Rachel Borovik and her Boston-alum Sean Cronin at the Gig-FX booth with artist Cisco Robles. Then it was Jamez who I caught on a lunch break. Next I found Mairam Joan, account executive at the Alfred Music Publishing. The Alfred space wasn’t a booth at all. It was a fully functioning music store in the middle of the convention center.

Later that afternoon, Kaitlyn Benton loaned her vocals to a PreSonus demo. While waiting for Kaitlyn to start, I spotted Robert B. Fischer, who won a drawing for a free pass at last year’s Annual Alumni Brunch. To round out my day, I visited Tyler Barth VP of Business Development, at Blue Microphones. Tyler isn’t an alum, but he frequently hosts Berklee interns, so it’s always a pleasure to chat with him. (Read about Rafael Restrepo’s Blue Mics internship experience here.) Tyler knows everyone, so it was no surprise to find talking about the Berklee alumni Gentleman Hall with none other than alum Tony Maserati. Overall, it was a great day!

With the encouragement of President Roger Brown, the LA office and Alumni Affairs coordinated an official “hang” that Thursday evening of NAMM at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Anaheim, CA. This swank location was provided via an alumni connection (Berklee grads are everywhere!) and the patio atmosphere was perfect. President Roger Brown addressed the party as the alumni in attendance grew from the expected 30 to a whopping 70 people.


Some notable alumni present: Theresa Flaminio who just got off the road from touring with Cee Lo Green, composer Ryan Shore, bass player and producer Janek Gwizdala, keyboard and music director Ruby BC, producer Martin Nessi, bassist Mike Torres, and film composer Nicholas Pike who brought his son Alex, who was just accepted to Berklee for Fall 2012 (congrats Alex!).







LA Program Interns – Summer 2011

Welcoming the Summer 2011 LA Program interns, one of our largest groups yet!

There are a variety of majors in this group, covering 8 out of the 12 majors offered at Berklee. Below is a list of some of the companies students will be interning at this summer.

If you’re interested in pursuing an internship during your Berklee career, visit the Office of Experiential Learning. If you’re an alum, the IN-103 option may be a perfect fit.

*Denotes alumni supervisor