Britani Washington Has Something Important to “Say to You”

“I never doubt my talent as an artist and the ability to use my voice to educate others.” – Britani Washington, Berklee College of Music Student (Class 2018)

Britani_WashingtonAt an early age, Britani took classes at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, a Berklee City Music Network partner, and she gained a greater appreciation for jazz and other genres of music. The program was invaluable and it eventually helped her and her sister to secure scholarships at Berklee College of Music to pursue their education and passion for the arts. At a very young age, Britani started singing in church with her family. It has been her faith in God that has kept her focused on reaching her goals. Yet, it wasn’t until she came to Berklee that she gained the confidence to make a career as a soloist.

Britani recalls, “I never thought that I would become an artist on my own. I was comfortable singing in groups and in the church choir. Yet, the experiences in school have helped to shape my artistry and my musical abilities to believe in my talents.”

Britani is now taking center stage singing and dancing at performances on campus and she’s excited to share her new songs to a large audience. She suggests to young performers to “find a mentor, or I would watch numerous videos of other artists perform. We all have difficult days but believe in yourself, treat it like a 9-5 job, and make that commitment!” 

Over the years, Britani recalls some of the remarkable teachers that had inspired her to become the woman and vocalist she is today. She reflected on some of her experiences singing in church, high school, the classes at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, as well as her collaboration with the faculty at Berklee College of Music. Each experience has instilled wonderful values that have kept her focused on pursuing a future career in the music business. For 45 years, the East Bay Center has been partnering with local school districts in the Bay Area creating a high-quality arts education programs for all. Students learn about vocal performance, playing instruments, dance, theater and digital media. Britani also enjoyed working alongside Tia Fuller, Tanya Butler, and other Berklee professors, while listening to some of her favorite artists from the Bay Area such as HerMusic and KehlaniMusic.

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Listen to her full interview and learn more about her childhood experiences, as well as Britani’s future aspirations. Britani is thrilled to release her first music video featuring her song “Say to You,” and she hopes to encourage others to be strong, confident, and follow their dreams!

Watch now “Say to You,” a song and music video by Britani Washington

John Michael Bradford, Berklee City Music Alumnus Featured on CNN

After a time of great tragedy,  John Michael Bradford was fortunate to discover his musical talent as a trombone player. Hurricane Katrina was threatening his community in Louisiana and he was forced to evacuate his home with his family. They quickly left everything behind and moved to San Antonio, Texas to stay at a family friend’s house.

On his trip, John Michael met Sam Williams, a trombone player that had been a part of the brass band called the Dirty Dozen, and he is now the leader of the band called Big Sam’s Funky Nation. “We were listening to some music in the car, singing along and I pretended to play the trombone,” recalls John Michael. Music was always part of John Michael’s life, as his mom and sister are singers, and his grandfather played the trumpet in high school. At a very challenging time when his family had to uproot their lives, music became a wonderful way to bring everyone together and Sam changed his life forever.

John Michael Bradford: Music and Performance Student 
John Michael Bradford: Berklee Student

Today, John Michael is a celebrated artist in the brass community and he is recognized for his talents. He has performed in New Orleans, Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as played at the GRAMMYS, and Carnegie Hall. A former Berklee City Music alumnus, John Michael is soon to complete Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor degree of Music in Performance. His first album came out last year called, “Something Old, Something New,” and he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship.

 

“Sam was the first time I had been around a trombone, and his sound is so big and warm. It really made me feel good to hear music and that New Orleans funky style.”
John Michael Bradford

John Michael Bradford: Berklee College of Music

Recently, John Michael was featured on CNN in a personal interview, as he recounts his experiences and ability to rise above the tragic events of Katrina “My favorite thing is about playing and making people feel good. It’s incredible because I always think back to Katrina,” recalls John. After the storm passed, John Michael went back to his hometown to nurture his talents and signed up for lessons using his grandfather’s instrument. He wanted to play the trombone and he became one of the youngest members to join the Tipitina’s Foundation. Donald Harrison, a Berklee alum and the Program Director, recognized John’s gift of musical performance. The after-school program is a Berklee City Music Network member and focuses on jazz performance for young artists. Many students that have completed the program have been selected to receive summer scholarships to Berklee City Music’s Five-Week intensive training.

John Michael recalls, “As far back as I can remember, I looked up to Donald and I wanted to follow in his footsteps at Berklee College of Music. Donald taught me everything about jazz and I gained his respect.” At 21-years-old, John Michael has been fortunate to meet and perform with many popular musicians early on in his career. He had the opportunity to work with The Meters guitarist, Leo Nocentelli, a Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, as well as with trumpeters Christian Scott, and study under the guidance of Sean JonesBerklee’s chair of the Brass Department.

Over the years, John Michael has been influenced by other musicians including Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Herbie HancockJustin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. “Bruno is great and he has an amazing ability to do all styles of music that appeals to different audiences. I would love an opportunity to work with him in the future, as well as JT.”  

Music is the universal language that brings people together from around the world. John Michael aspires to become one of the many great jazz performers idolized by others after he graduates Berklee. At a young age, he has meet with many influential people during a difficult circumstance and turn it into a rewarding opportunity. “For me, it was a tragedy turned into a blessing,” John Michael says. “I think music can turn a tragedy into something that’s beautiful because it can touch so many people.”

Learn more about the Berklee City Music Network, and the online educational portal for music teachers called the PULSE.

Network Lunch at NAMM!

Hello from NAMM!  NAMM is a trade show that stands for National Association of Music Merchants. Every year it is held in Anaheim, California at the Convention Center with upwards of 100,000 people in attendance. For the past three years, Berklee City Music staff have attended in order to meet with industry partners that can help benefit our City Music Network Members and School Districts.

 

Every year that we have gone to NAMM, City Music has hosted an annual lunch for Network Members. This year, five members where represented: Phoenix Conservatory of Music, A Placed Called Home, RYTMO, The Roots of Music and Notes for Notes.

The lunch is always a great opportunity for everyone to connect and give updates on new projects and initiatives they are working on.  It is also a place to start collaboration, as many conversations at the lunch, much like at the Berklee City Music Summit, have lead to cross member projects.

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L to R: Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Raymond Jacobs (Notes for Notes), Alex Kies (Notes for Notes), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), John Bigus (Berklee PULSE), Morgan Steward (The Roots of Music), Mike Anderson (RYTMO) and Angela Han (Berklee City Music)

At this year’s lunch we received updates from our Vice President for Education Outreach, Lee Whitmore, on the Grammy Music Education Coalition, The Boston Conservatory and Berklee merger and news on our online music resources, the Berklee PULSE Music Method, that is now open to the public and will be translated into Spanish in the coming year.

We also heard from each Member on news from their organization.

  • Phoenix Conservatory recently moved locations to a larger facility that will better accommodate their growing student population and program offerings.
  • RYTMO recently launched a new partnership with Learn 4 Life charter school in Anaheim where they are teaching course levels 1 and 2 and will soon be implementing levels 3 and 4.
  • The night before A Placed Called Home and Charyn Harris were honored with the She Rocks Motivator Award from the Women’s International Music Network. Charyn is the conductor of the Music Program at APCH.
  • Note for Notes has recently opened three new studios with their partners at Boys and Girls Clubs in Cleveland, Memphis and New Orleans and plan to open another five new locations in 2017.
  • The Roots of Music is also looking at expanding their program with moving into a new location and creating an arts campus in New Orleans with other partners, including another Network member in New Orleans, Tipitina’s Foundation.

And what lunch would be complete without a traditional selfie?  Check out our Instagram to see it.

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L to R: Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Sandy Jordan (Casio), Angela Han (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Stephen Schmidt (Casio), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Morgan Stewart (The Roots of Music), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), and Bev Tryon (Berklee College of Music)

After lunch we headed from the Marriott to the Convention Center to say hello and thank you to our friends and partners at Casio. The Casio Musical Instruments Division has been a fantastic partner over the past two years, donating more than 150 keyboards to Network Members, including those who attended the lunch.

If you plan to attend NAMM next year in 2018, please make sure we know so we can see you at the lunch and connect!

The John Lennon Education Tour Bus in Boston

Earlier this fall, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus made a stop in Boston to work with City Music students. In a single day, the students found the chemistry to write and record an original song, plan the project from start to finish, and conclude with a video shoot. Below is the final production of their original song and City Music College Scholar Yanina Johnson’s reflection of the experience in her own words. Yanina explains how her time on the bus helped her find the confidence to write a song, how to lean on the support offered by her peers, and to trust in her own voice.

When we first walked on to the bus we were in shock. We sat down and were greeted by the wonderful staff. We introduced ourselves by saying our names and spiritual animals (mine was a sloth). The staff only included three guys who did the recording, the music video, and engineering. They were supportive and willing to work with us through everything. They were excited and enthusiastic about any style of music we wanted to play.

I never imagined myself writing music. I never had the confidence to write how I feel and share a part of myself with other people. Coming on this bus, I didn’t expect to be needed as much as I was. It felt good knowing that people were depending on me to write lyrics and sing. It was a new type of feeling and pressure that I have never faced before. I felt challenged but I was not alone. Everyone on the bus had my back. It was a beautiful feeling to share and write music with other talented musicians.

I remember being in the booth, I thought I sounded terrible with every note I sang. Each time they would convince me that it was a good take, helping me every step of the way. The energy was always high, never turned down. I could tell that they had a passion for music and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to work with everyone one the bus.

I loved how every moment was enjoyable. We got work done while having fun at the same time, which can sometimes be really hard to do. I feel that sometimes people get caught up in this idea of being the best at what they do, like having the best runs and tone, or the best chops on drums. Somewhere along the line, they lose themselves and forget what music is all about. We had the chance to do what we love without having to sound perfect. Just showing our love for music was enough to make a killing song. I am happy that it was a judgment free zone. I felt comfortable to write and sing freely. Lastly I enjoyed myself on the bus, thank you so much for the opportunity!

Berklee City Music Boston visits Phoenix

Last week, City Music Boston travelled to Phoenix, AZ to visit the Phoenix Conservatory of Music.  Guest blogger Jordan Summers from City Music Boston shares details from her trip below.

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Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Phoenix, Arizona with four other colleagues to visit the Phoenix Conservatory of Music. The site director Regina Nixon had a full schedule for our trip and before stepping into the Conservatory we were treated to watching Parent Tot Music Time, a morning program hosted by PCM that gets children as young as 6 months old exposed to music through singing, dancing, and playing with egg shakers.

When we arrived at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, we were given a tour of their impressive site. Located within a mall, the Conservatory personalized a fully renovated clothing store to make it conducive to learning and performing music. The space had an inviting quality to it, with pictures of students hung on the walls, a hangout area complete with couches, air hockey, a pool table, PS2, as well as a snack table. The location creates a great access point where students hearing music from inside the mall can come into the conservatory and sign up for lessons on the spot.

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The first day, we observed a theory class that used PULSE for basic interval review. We were then treated to an ensemble performance on their main stage with audience seating and stage lights. Students performed “Rude” by Magic! and “Girl From Ipanema”. It was a pleasure to get to see previous City Music Summer Scholar, Michael Gloria, in his home environment as well as meeting the new scholars who will be coming to Boston later this month.

The second day gave us a chance to speak with the students and instructors about their experience in the program. The students said that once they joined PCM, they enjoyed it so much that they often came early or stayed past their classes to hang out with their friends and jam. With instruments hung on the walls, a piano lab, percussion lab, and complete stage set up, it’s easy to see why!

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Justin Johnson, my colleague at City Music Boston, found the dedication of instructors to their students really outstanding. Hearing about their student-teacher relationship strengthening in connection to the student’s musical growth was something that was very apparent in the organization. Kate Lyons, our Admissions Coordinator said that what stood out about the program to her was the level of student ownership and parent engagement. The students fundraise, help with recruiting their friends, and perform at community events in Phoenix. There is also a Parent Booster club which meets monthly discuss performances, auditions, scholarships, and concerts. This helps to educate parents on the commitment of their children to the program and to provide them support and assistance when needed. Kate hopes to bring the ideas of parental interaction back for further development here in Boston.

As the City Music Boston Director, Misael Martinez observed that the power of music reaches distances much greater than the miles between Arizona and Massachusetts. The educational development of the program was inspiring, as were the holistic approaches and expression of music. As they say, music is a universal language and he noted that while we live in different cities, with different demographics (and extremely contrasting weather!), the love of music and youth development was shared.

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Overall, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music is a great place for students in the Phoenix area to focus their efforts in becoming amazing musicians with the energy and passion of Regina Nixon and the staff. We are so thrilled to have been able to travel and see our peers in the Berklee City Music Network!

UrbanFUTURE, Welcome to the Berklee City Music Network

Please join us in welcoming the 46th member to the Berklee City Music Network, UrbanFUTURE in St. Louis, Missouri.  Founded in 1998 UrbanFUTURE “is dedicated to success of urban youth through literacy, academic growth, character formation, parental involvement, and career preparation.”

They provide mentoring, tutoring, enrichment and career exploration programs for middle school students to help them reach their full potential.  The UrbanFUTURE vision “is to help urban youth and their parents see and believe in future career opportunities.”

Check out the UrbanFUTURE drumline from Fanning Middle School perform at this year’s UrbanFUTURE Awards Banquet, and be sure to check out their website to learn more about what they do.

 

 

Summer Scholar Benefit Concert at 2xSalt

2xSalt Berklee Brandon Young Benefit Concert June 27

 

This Friday, June 27 at 10 pm, Berklee City Music Network member 2xSalt Ministry in Charlotte, NC will hold their first annual Berklee Benefit Concert to help support their student Brandon Young.  Brandon received a scholarship from Berklee City Music to attend the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program in Boston this summer.  The funds raised at the concert are to help Brandon get here and for room and board while he is here.  The Five-Week program is a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the music with leading faculty, visiting artists, and to meet students from over 70 countries all while honing their music in a performance driven curriculum.

If you are in Charlotte this Friday, be sure to stop by and help support this great cause and hear some good music while doing so!

 

Welcome Workshop Houston

Please welcome the 45th member to the Berklee City Music Network, Workshop Houston.  Founded in 2003 and located in the 3rd Ward of Houston, Texas, their mission is to “provide youth with creative, technical, and educational resources.”  Through this they strive  to “lay the groundwork for a just society by creating a community that provides youth with support, expanded opportunities, and new definitions of success.”

They offer students four areas to expand their knowledge, the Chopper Shop, the Style Shop, the Scholar Shop, which every student must attend, and for music, the Beat Shop.  They provide after-school and summer programming for middle and high school students.

Be sure to check out their website to see the bicycles their students design and build, as well as the clothing students make in the Style Shop.  For your listening enjoyment please watch this music video of an original song by their students titled “Study Hard” and be sure to visit their YouTube channel to view more of their students’ music videos.

Please join us in welcoming Workshop Houston to the Berklee City Music Network!

Central Music Academy Joins the Network

 

Located in Lexington, KY, Central Music Academy provides music lessons to financially disadvantaged students in the area from 8 to 18 years old.  They offer lessons on 17 different instruments including woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, guitar, voice, and piano.  Students at any level of experience are accepted with the materials tailored to their needs and musical goals.

Watch this great video to learn more about how Central Music Academy is serving their students and their community, and please join us in welcoming them to the Berklee City Music Network!

Berklee City Music Network Conference Master Class – Stax Music Academy

Stax Music Academy was the last band to perform at the 2013 Berklee City Music Network Conference Master Class.  The band was led by Paul McKinney, Instrumental Director; Terrilyn Douglas, Vocal Coordinator; and Justing Merrick, Artistic Director.  The band featured Craylon Davis, Ronesha Davis, Tia Henderson, April Horner, Kyler Gilkie, and Johnathan Lee on vocals; Tahj Mason and Josiah Taylor on alto sax; Anthony Moore on baritone sax; Dallas Dodson and Kordae Maples on guitar; Lijulianna Thomas and Joshua Huggins on keys; David McKinzie and Solomon Smith on bass; and David Pruitt and Marrick Flowers on drums.

Check out the other master class performances featuring Tipitina’s Foundation’sLincoln Park Performing Arts Center’sBerklee City Music Boston’s, and the Philadelphia Clef Club.

If you are interested in performing at this year’s Conference Master Class in Los Angeles please click here for more information and to apply.