Berklee celebrated its 27th annual Encore Gala on October 22, 2021, in virtual style with a livestream from the Berklee Performance Center. We showcased a variety of musical performances featuring talented student, alumni, and special guest musicians performing jazz, bluegrass, R&B, and world music.
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, this year's gala raised over $1.2 million, and still counting!
Photos by Mike Spencer
Berklee Gala Committee
Sandhya S. and Craig S. Douglas
Andrew and Mariann Youniss
Members: Marybeth and Stephen Bisson '19P, Jessica and Timothy Donohue, Debbie and Phil Edmundson '19P, Stefan and Sonchu Gavell, Kristine M. Higgins, Teresa Koster and Errin Siagel, Mark and Michele Mandel, Jeryl and Stephen Oristaglio, David '79 and Sally Patrick, Carmichael Roberts and Sandra Park, Susan and Alan Solomont, David and Lori Sprows, Richard and Alison Vieira, and Tania Zouikin
Andrew and Mariann Youniss
Sandhya S. and Craig S. Douglas
Martin and Tristin Mannion
Music Performances and Special Guests
Below is a list of the performers at this year's Encore Gala.
Currently a 10th-semester Berklee student and film scoring and performance major, Sheila del Bosque Fuentes hails from Havana, Cuba. An in-demand flutist, she was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend Berklee. In 2018, she created the Sheila Del Bosque Trio, which performs a selection of contemporary and traditional Afro-Cuban music with the influences of European music and jazz. She has shared the stage with musicians such as Paquito D’Rivera, Berta Rojas, Omar Hakim, and Aida Cuevas. She has performed at the 49th annual Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, the Berklee Performance Center, Mechanics Hall, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Soul and Rock Music
A 2021 Berklee graduate who majored in professional music, Brandon Harris was born and raised in Chicago. He is a singer-songwriter full of rhythm and soul whose voice and charm, creative lyricism, and musicality make him truly a one-of-a-kind artist. He found his love for music in the church at the age of 10 and has been writing and releasing his own material ever since. As a musician, singer, writer, and performer, his artistry is influenced by Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Beyoncé, among others. He most recently dropped a new album, Salt, available on all streaming platforms.
Currently a fourth-semester Berklee student and performance and professional music major, Liam Purcell began studying on scholarship at Berklee in the fall of 2020. Purcell and his band, Cane Mill Road, are rapidly rising on the bluegrass scene, performing stateside and internationally, winning both industry awards and the hearts of those who see them. Named Momentum Band of the Year in 2019 by the International Bluegrass Music Association, the group has been recognized as one of the most accomplished new groups in the industry. Purcell leads Cane Mill Road as they draw on their Appalachian roots while boldly writing and arranging new music of their own. The group's latest album, Roots, broke the top 10 on Billboard's Bluegrass Albums chart, debuting at number six. The group has toured throughout the U.S., playing at some of the most iconic festivals and venues in the nation.
Currently a sixth-semester Berklee student and songwriting major, Grace Kinstler is a 21-year-old award-winning singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. After placing third on this past season of American Idol, she began performing all across the country at various festivals and events, including at the Miss New York USA competition, the grand opening of the Sable Hotel at Navy Pier in Chicago, and numerous Chicago Bulls and White Sox games. She has released two EPs and has more original music on the way in early 2022. At Berklee, she has performed with the a cappella group Upper Structure, and participated in three Singers Showcase productions: Retro-Future—Icons of the ’80s; Bond...James Bond: Theme Songs; and Aretha, Queen of Soul.
Grammy-winning artist and Berklee visiting scholar Paula Cole B.M. ’90 has released 11 solo albums of original songs. Known for hit songs "I Don't Want to Wait" and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," she has performed with icons in many genres of music, from Peter Gabriel to Dolly Parton, Herbie Hancock to Emmylou Harris, and Amy Lee of Evanescence to Burt Bacharach. Cole’s emotionally deep performances and her poetic, intelligent writing help her stand out from the masses in contemporary music. Her compositions have been covered by a diverse range of artists—including Hancock, Annie Lennox, Katherine McPhee, and JoJo—and she has sold approximately three million albums. As the first woman in history to be nominated, without collaborators, for Producer of the Year at the Grammys (for her album This Fire), Cole has broken boundaries with a searcher’s spirit. From her top 10 hits of the 1990s to her more recent, critically acclaimed albums, Cole continues to write, produce, record, and perform heartfelt, meaningful, lasting music that defies categorization.
Legendary bandleader, trombonist, and author Fred Wesley is one of the forefathers of funk, still setting the standard with his jazz funk band, the New JBs. Together for more than 30 years, the band is a living celebration of roots, funk, and more, performing such hits as “Pass the Peas,” made with James Brown and the JBs, including Maceo Parker, as well as selections from the P-Funk years and Wesley’s own and others’ soulful jazz and blues compositions. Born in Columbus, Georgia, and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Wesley began his career as a trombonist with Ike and Tina Turner. He later was music director, arranger, trombonist, and a primary composer for James Brown from 1968 to 1975, then arranged for and played with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Wesley has recorded a dozen solo albums, including the cult favorite House Party; is featured in the Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings and many other documentaries and books about funk; and gives master classes around the world.
City Music Ambassadors
City Music ambassadors who performed with the Berklee City Music Ensemble include:
Tia Fuller is a Grammy-nominated artist and an accomplished educator, serving as artistic director of Berklee’s Ensemble Department and City Music High School Academy. She has been the featured saxophonist with pop diva Beyoncé as well as the assistant musical director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour and also performed with Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project and Money Jungle tours. Fuller, who was recently featured in Pixar’s Oscar and Golden Globe-winning movie Soul, has recorded five albums and her quartet has performed at festivals all over the world. A devoted educator, she directs Berklee’s Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, and Micki Miller ensembles.
Theron Feemster '00
Theron Feemster (a.k.a. Neff-U) is a Grammy Award–winning songwriter, producer, and composer who has worked with Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, Sia, and countless others, and has composed for movies and shows on Lifetime, Disney, and Fox. Born in Grover, North Carolina, Feemster started playing the piano at 2 years old. Growing up in his father’s non-denominational church, he learned to freely express himself and his musical talent. After graduating high school, he went on to Berklee College of Music. There, he wrote a musical composition that made its way into the hands of Will Smith, and became the theme song for Men and Black II. In 2001, Feemster moved to Los Angeles. He is currently signed to Universal Music Publishing.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Kameron Whalum started singing at age 4 and picked up the trombone in the fifth grade. He excelled in Overton High School’s creative and performing arts program and later attended Morehouse College. In 2011, he became a member of Bruno Mars’s band, the Hooligans. Whalum has performed with Mars on the MTV Europe Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Canada’s MuchMusic Awards, the Grammys, the halftime shows of Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl 50 (alongside Coldplay and Beyoncé), and countless local telecasts. He plays on Mars’s Grammy-winning album 24K Magic and song “Uptown Funk.”
Ondrej Pivec (a.k.a. Ondre J) is a Grammy-winning keyboardist, composer, and bandleader from the Czech Republic. He is a member of Gregory Porter’s touring band and also recorded on the Grammy-winning jazz singer’s 2016 album, Take Me to the Alley. Pivec has performed at Glastonbury, North Sea Jazz, and the BMI Hip-Hop Awards, and with artists including Andra Day, Wu-Tang Clan, and Ayo. He plays regularly at New York City’s renowned Greater Allen Cathedral, and is also the keyboardist and music director for the Kennedy Administration, a jazz, pop, and R&B band that has toured Europe and opened for Elton John.
Keyon Harrold was born and raised in Ferguson, Missouri, and later attended the New School in New York City. Since landing his first major gig with Common, he has performed with Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Eminem, Maxwell, and Anthony Hamilton. In 2009, he released his solo debut album, Introducing Keyon Harrold, and received critical acclaim for his trumpet performances in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. The 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown and the protests that followed play a large part on Harrold’s newest album, The Mugician, which features guest artists including Pharoahe Monch, Gary Clark Jr., Big K.R.I.T., Guy Torry, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Robert Glasper. The Mugician is a portmanteau of “musician” and “magician, a nod to a nickname Cheadle bestowed upon the young virtuoso, and an apt descriptor for a record that pushes beyond the traditional boundaries of jazz trumpet.
With over 20 years of production experience across multiple disciplines, Michael Refuerzo has produced numerous iconic brand campaigns and is recognized globally as a creative leader. His work with artists, athletes, and brands has influenced the visual language of today’s media landscape. As head of production at Beats by Dr. Dre, he oversees all content production ranging from global TV campaigns and short films to music videos and digital/social content.
Niu Raza B.M. '18
Hailing from Madagascar, Niua Raza is an award-winning Boston-based singer-songwriter known for her unique sound, a perfect blend of her traditional heritage and modern music. An independent musician who chose to follow her own path and music business journey, Raza has worked with Sony Music and artists including Jacob Collier, Victor Wooten, Tia Fuller, and Javier Limón. She is also an entrepreneur and philanthropist, using her platform to teach the next generation of musicians and to advocate for children’s rights with non-profit organizations such as Unicef Madagascar.
Berklee is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 04-2300472. We will adhere to all state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.