Noe Socha turned 20 on his trip to Mississippi, though his birthday was the dimmest of the highlights from his trip. Noe is a deep devote of the blues and the Mississippi musicians whose music has transcended generations and oceans to influence a kid from Capri, Italy, who started out playing classical music on his guitar. This was his first trip down South and every time he stepped out of the van to explore another historic landmark, he tapped into something spiritual coming up from the grounds where Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Honey Boy Edwards, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Albert King once roamed with their guitars.
Students, faculty, and staff recently headed South for an annual traverse through Mississippi. The group represented the fourth Berklee Mississippi Music Exchange, which trades education, music, and culture between Berklee and kindred organizations throughout the state. The trip itinerary included auditioning Mississippi youth for summer scholarships, and gigs and blues and civil rights tours for the Berklee crew. Continue reading
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
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