This post was written by Bill Banfield, a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.
I had been waiting to see Lisa Fischer and hear what she sounded like, breathed like, live in person. We have all been pleasantly stunned by 20 Feet from Stardom. This is a film about the lives of the background singers. The film follows the behind-the-scenes of singers Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, and Jo Lawry. On January 16, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards. Continue reading →
The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band. From left: Saxophonist Mario Castro, bassist Lenny Stallworth, drummer Taylor Gordon, and keyboardist Eric Finland.
The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band headed to the Delta Blues Museum’s outdoor stage, ready for their first set of the day. It would be during the Juke Joint Festival debut by a Berklee group when the summer scholarship winner would be revealed. Both contenders, with family members and close friends were stage side, waiting, smiling politely, keeping cool. The two young women in all of their composure made an impression, and were an example to emulate when, suddenly, we realized that there were no drums or backline on stage.
From left: Kyleen Thomas and Paula Thompson, Delta Blues Museum Arts & Education Program students.
I can’t imagine what the two young women have been thinking since their scholarship auditions at the Delta Blues Museum on Thursday. Jacquline Gooch and Paula Thompson, students from the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts & Education Program, were both outstanding. Gooch, 19, accompanied herself on a guitar with a sliver of worn wood below the sound hole that looked like a scar. I imagined the hours she’s played her instrument, writing her own songs and learning others. Thompson, 15, stood with the microphone in hand and sang for a small audience of family and museum staffers. Kyleen Thomas, 12, another museum student, played bass while instructor Daddy Rich played guitar for Thompson. Rich, museum gift shop manager Chris Coleman, Berklee professor Lenny Stallworth and I judged the two singers and multi instrumentalists. It’s hard to choose one of them when there are two talented and deserving hopefuls. Continue reading →
Bill Banfield in the Control Room at Clarksdale Studio
Berklee Multicultural Educator – Program Manager, Kevin Johnson writes from the Mississippi Music Exchange visit to the 7th Annual Clarksdale Juke Joint Festival. For more information check out the press release on Berklee.edu.
Today faculty members Lenny Stallworth and Bill Banfield, along with students Taylor Gordon (drums), Mario Castro (sax), Eric Finland (keys) and Director of Media Relations, Allen Bush and I arrived in Clarksdale, Mississippi to attend the Juke Joint Festival. Allen and Lenny conducted auditions at the Delta Blues Museum and two talented young Mississippi musicians will be awarded full scholarships to the 5-week summer program. Continue reading →
In between sets by the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education Program and Grammy-winning Delta blues legend Honeyboy Edwards, I had the chance to catch-up with a couple of people who had spent time on Berklee’s campus.