Berklee City Music Welcomes Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program

Photo credit: Woodlawn Music Tech

In a city where history is profound and culture is abundant, the music scene in Birmingham, Alabama has infinite potential. Up until six years ago that potential was essentially untapped. “Opportunities for students to participate in arts-related programs are minimal. The need for expanded opportunities for learning arts technology and to gain exposure to the entertainment industry are virtually non-existent,” explains Dr. Henry Panion, III, President of the Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program.

Photo credit: Woodlawn Music Tech at Audiostate 55 Entertainment

Fortunately, Dr. Panion established the program as the education component of Audiostate 55 Recording Studios and Entertainment Company. The programs offered through Audiostate 55 are a result of many years of designing community arts programs, continued learning teacher training, job shadowing, and professional development in the area of contemporary music, music technology, and the entertainment industry.

Woodlawn is one of Berklee City Music Network’s newest members and the first member from Alabama. We  look forward to working with them and seeing their students flourish.


New Network Member: 2xSalt


The Berklee City Music Network has a new member, 2xSalt, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  At 2xSalt they reach youth and their families by positively impacting them with music, sports, mentoring and outreach programming.  Their campus includes basketball courts, an indoor soccer field, weight room, dining area, performance space, a recording studio, and a computer lab on a 50,000 square foot center with 30 acres of land.

On Friday nights they host “Salt Shed.”  An event that features music, poetry, and has an open mic.  On our trip we were fortunate to be at the first Salt Shed, where we watched 2xSalt students, local musicians, including recording artist Gabriel Bello, and 2xSalt faculty Lathan Wood perform.  All in attendance had a great time, and we highly recommend going if you are in Charlotte.

IIXMI (2xSalt Music Institute) is 2xSalt’s intensive music program where students take classes in theory, ear training, ensembles, and music production in Studio 5:13.  Take a listen to some of the IIXMI students perform and speak about their experience at 2xSalt, and what it has done for them both musically and as individuals.

Berklee Presidential Scholar: Dayramir Gonzalez

Dayramir Gonzalez was born in Havana to a musical family and throughout his childhood he composed, arranged and performed.  At the age of 16 he was invited by singer Oscar Valdes, of the groundbreaking Cuban band Irakére, to play piano with his new group, Diákara.  In 2004, Dayramir formed Habana enTRANCE, honing his craft and perfecting his own singular style.  With enTRANCE, Dayramir has performed at the Zaragoza Jazz Festival in Spain, which also featured his heroes Chucho and his father Bebo Valdez, jazz bass legend Ron Carter, Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, Harry Connick Jr., and other notables.

Dayramir also has performed with Cuban and international artists such as Chucho Valdez, Bebo Valdez, Ramon Valle, Omara Portuondo, Teresa Caturla, Ignacio Berroa, Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, George Garzone, Christian McBride, Anat Cohen and Dave Liebman, and has collaborated as the pianist for the groups Klimax and Habana de Primera.

In 2013, he received a dual degree in jazz composition and piano performance from Berklee College of Music, where he is the first Cuban national to be a Presidential Scholar.

Dayramir is passionate about music and community and is giving back by teaching through the Berklee City Music Network.  Dayramir tells us, “I believe strongly in what I have musically. Every time I play my music, people always appreciate what I play because they identify with it.  In some way, they find a little bit of themselves in my music, and I believe that I can contribute something to change the world.”

To learn more about Dayramir & Habana enTRANCE please visit

Jazz Generations Benefit Concert at Project RYTMO

Anaheim’s RYTMO (Reaching Youth for Music Opportunities) will be hosting it’s 2nd Annual Jazz Generations on Friday, June 14, 2013, 7:30pm at the Sunkist Church of Anaheim: 701 S. Sunkist Street, Anaheim, CA.

The fundraiser will feature the sophisticated jazz sounds of “Open Hands” featuring Abraham Laboriel (bass), Justo Almario (sax), Bill Maxwell( drums) and Greg Mathieson (keyboards).

World-renowned Brazilian composer and pianist, Rique Pantoja will serve as music director for the RYTMO House Band, consisting of RYTMO students and professional musicians including Del Atkins (Patti LaBelle, Pointer Sisters), Ricky Z, (Christina Aguilera, Josh Groban), Angie Fischer (Mary J. Blige, American Idol) and several guest celebrity artists.

Proceeds will go directly to benefit RYTMO students selected to attend the Berklee 5-week Summer Camp in Boston. All donations are tax-deductible. For more information call: (714) 776-0467

Natalie Clements of Fort Hayes Performs “Cups”

As many people know, “Cups” has become a YouTube phenomenon.  What might not be known, is that it is a rendition of the J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers folk song, “Miss Me When I’m Gone,” from 1937.  In 1938, Charlie Monroe came out with a country version titled “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.”

The song has grown from Lulu and the Lampshades and Anna Burden’s covers, to dozens of individual and group covers, especially after Anna Kendrick performed “Cups” in the movie Pitch Perfect, directed by Jason Moore.

High School student Natalie Clements, of Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, a Berklee City Music Network member, joins in with her rendition of the song.  What makes Natalie’s performance stand out is how quickly she picked up the beat.  After only a few hours of practice, she effortlessly performs the first verse of the song.

City Music Student: Aaron Liao’s Senior Recital

Aaron Liao's Senior Recital

Aaron tells us, “my fellow students at Berklee inspire me incredibly.  I’m surrounded by so much talent that it’s impossible to not be able to learn something new every day.”  You could see Aaron’s talent as well as his bandmates at his Senior Recital that took place on April 9th at The Red Room @ Cafe 939.  The performance had two groups and the played a variety of songs from Radiohead’s “2+2=5,” “Actual Proof” by Herbie Hancock, and some of Aaron’s originals.

At his City Music program in Seattle Aaron was the oldest member the year he joined, and tells us he was looked up to in many ways.  “I learned how to be a leader, and how to be confident in myself to see something through to completion.”  He loves playing for people who want to have a great time listening to music, and really enjoys playing with singers.  After he graduates this year he plans to stay in Boston for half a year and then move to New York City.

Aaron has traveled and taught with Berklee groups and tells us he has found those experiences to be incredibly humbling.  “I don’t think there’s much more rewarding than to inspire someone else to see things in a fresh, exciting way, and to make them happy about what they’re doing.  I’ve been fortunate to have had plenty of teachers who have done that with me, and I hope to give back the same way!”

Aaron Liao’s Senior Recital – From left to right: Cory Cox (drums), Elisa Lomazzo (vocals), and Aaron Liao (bass)

Visit Aaron’s Website:

The Temptations and Jazz Aspen Snowmass

The Temptations perform at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado
The Temptations perform at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado

On March 3rd, The Temptations performed at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.  Jazz Aspen Snowmass teacher and saxophonist, Chris Bank, put together the horn section for the performance, which included other Jazz Aspen Snowmass teachers Rob Merritt on trumpet and Chris Harrison on tenor saxophone.

The band also had Jazz Aspen Snowmass student Pablo Gorra, from Glenwood High School, who played first alto saxophone for the performance.  He was given and 8 bar solo which was extended to 48 bars once The Temptations heard him play.  Pablo will attend Colorado University in Boulder on a scholarship and will be double majoring in jazz studies and engineering.  Congratulations Pablo!

Berklee City Music Night at the TD Garden with the Boston Celtics

As the 2013 NBA season comes to a close, the Boston Celtics hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, April 10.  The game had many playoff implications, which created a very enthusiastic crowd at the TD Garden. The game was also a marquee night for Berklee City Music.  Minutes before tip-off, three City Music High School Academy students––Adeline Um, Melissa Israel, and Grace Mann––stepped on to the court to sing the national anthem. Their beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was met with boisterous applause from the 19,000 fans in attendance.

Berklee City Music All Stars

Before and during the game City Music work-study students could be seen walking around the arena selling 50/50 raffle tickets.  The 50/50 raffle is conducted each game by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation. The purpose of the raffle is to provide extra support for the Foundation so that they are able to provide resources to impact youth-based organizations in the community. Berklee City Music will be the beneficiary of a portion of the jackpot.

The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the “Heroes Among Us” award to Dr. Krystal Banfield, Dean of Berklee City Music.  Dr. Banfield was the honoree for her continued commitment to furthering the mission of Berklee City Music through low or no cost, after-school music education and mentorship.

Dr. Krystal Banfield accepts the Heros Among Us Award
Dr. Krystal Banfield Accepts the Heros Among Us Award

To cap off the evening a check for $50,000 was presented to Berklee City Music, a contribution from the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation. Celtics Co-owner and President of the Shamrock Foundation Stephen Pagliuca presented the check to J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Associate Vice President for Education Outreach and Executive Director of Berklee City Music, and Dr. Krystal Banfield.  Berklee City Music sincerely thanks the Boston Celtics for their continued support.

Shamrock Foundation
From left to right: J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Associate Vice President for Education Outreach and Executive Director of Berklee City Music; Dr. Krystal Banfield, Dean of Berklee City Music; Stephen Pagliuca, Celtics Co-owner and President of the Shamrock Foundation

City Music Student: Aaron Liao

Aaron Liao at his Senior Recital on April 9, 2013
Aaron Liao at his Senior Recital on April 9, 2013

Meet Aaron Liao, Berklee City Music student from Seattle, WA, who is now a Senior at Berklee.  He first heard about Berklee through his friends when he was in 9th grade.  “I remember looking up Berklee’s course catalog and seeing ‘Evolution of Hip Hop Bass.’ I thought, no way could this be real,” Aaron recounts.  He looked into the 5 Week Summer Performance Program and attended it in 2008.  While there he met fellow students from his hometown who mentioned they were in attendance on scholarship from Berklee City Music.  When he went back to Seattle he applied to the Berklee City Music Network member in Seattle and was accepted the following year.

Aaron’s dad is a classical pianist and gave him piano lessons from age 5 to 12.  When he was 1o years old he began playing cello until he was 14 when he started playing electric bass.  Aaron remembers, “I took to the electric bass in a completely different way than cello or piano; while practicing would sometimes feel like a chore with cello and piano, it never would with bass. I just couldn’t put it down!”

He played a lot of rock in high school and around his junior year got into jazz.  A program called “Running Start” in Seattle allowed high school students to take college courses and Aaron took jazz improvisation and funk ensembles at Shoreline Community College.

Check back soon for more photos and video excerpts from Aaron’s senior recital.

Aaron Liao Senior Recital April 9, 2013 - From left to right: Matthew Halpin (Tenor Saxophone), Christian Li (Keyboard), Ian Barnett (Drums), Aaron Liao (Bass)
Aaron Liao Senior Recital April 9, 2013 – From left to right: Matthew Halpin (Tenor Saxophone), Christian Li (Keyboard), Ian Barnett (Drums), Aaron Liao (Bass)

Visit Aaron’s Website:

Class Got Brass? A School Brass Band Battle

IMG_0255 - Version 2

On Sunday, March, 24 the Class Got Brass middle and high school brass band competition took place at Congo Square in New Orleans.  The competition is put on by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which owns the New Orleans Jazz Fest.  The competition was established to continue the New Orleans brass band tradition through middle and high school students.

The bands compete in second-line parade fashion and must adhere to guidelines to promote and keep the brass band tradition.  The bands are limited to a maximum of 12 members with only one bass drum, one snare drum, and one tuba.  The competition is open to public and private middle and high schools from anywhere in Louisiana.

This year all contestants received a gift certificate prize from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation that may be used to purchase instruments, instrument repairs, and supplies.  First place received $10,000, second place received $6,000, third place received $4,000, and all other participants received $750.

The O. Perry Walker High School “Chosen Ones”

Our three Berklee City Music Network members all play a part in many of the students’ lives who competed in Class Got Brass.  Some of the students in the middle school bands go to The Roots of Music after school program, O. Perry Walker High School has an after school music program sponsored by Young Audiences of Louisiana, and some of the schools receive instruments through the Tipitina’s Foundation Instruments A Comin’ program.

This year 17 bands competed and the competition was tight.  It was a great afternoon of music.

Check out the highlights video of the competition.

2013 Winners

  • 1st Place: O. Perry Walker High School, Band Director – Wilbert Rawlins
  • 2nd Place: KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School, Band Director  – Kelvin Harrison, Sr.
  • 3rd Place: Joseph S. Clark Prep, Band Director – Joe Franklin

2013 Competitors

  • Chalmette High School
  • Cohen College Prep High School
  • Edna Karr High School
  • Eleanor McMain Secondary School
  • Joseph S. Clark Prep
  • KIPP: McDonogh 15 Middle School
  • L.W. Higgins High School
  • Lafayette Academy Charter School
  • Martin Behrman Charter School
  • McDonogh No. 35 High School
  • Medard H. Nelson Charter School
  • O. Perry Walker High School
  • Park Forest Middle School
  • Sophie B. Wright Charter School
  • St. Mary’s Academy High School
  • Warren Easton Charter High School
  • West Jefferson High School

For more information visit: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation