Berklee’s 26th Annual Encore Gala Raises More Than $1.5 Million

This year's Encore Gala was held virtually and featured Jackson Browne, Steve Winwood, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and many more.

October 28, 2020

Berklee raised over $1.5 million in support of the Berklee City Music program at the 2020 Encore Gala, which featured over 150 faculty, student, and alumni musicians from 23 countries, and an array of celebrity guests. 

This year's event, which was held virtually on Saturday, October 24, began with remarks from Berklee leadership, and included special guest appearances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest ’07H, Gloria and Emilio Estefan ’07H ’16P, Quincy Jones ’51 ’83H, LL Cool J ’24P, Alex Lacamoire B.M. ’95 ’19H, Rickey Minor, famed Red Sox player David Ortiz, and comedian Sinbad. 

“The importance of this City Music program that reaches kids from marginalized communities and gives them hope for a college education through music is, I think, a fantastic idea,” said special guest and hip-hop pioneer LL Cool J. “Music basically took me out of the inner city and it let me see the world.” 

Multiple Grammy Award–winner and music industry giant Quincy Jones ’51 spoke about the importance of music to the students in the City Music program: “Music has the power to change lives, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, because it absolutely saved mine.” Jones is an alumnus and remains an active member of the Berklee community. 

The Gala musical program consisted of an array of performances, highlighted by renowned singer-songwriter Jackson Browne and legendary vocalist and musician Steve Winwood ‘08H. Browne performed his hit “The Pretender,” and Winwood performed classics such as “I’m a Man,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Higher Love.”

Various digital rooms showcased more live music, notably the Hip-Hop Room, which featured a performance by Daryl “DMC” McDaniels, founding member of the historic hip-hop group Run DMC, and DJ Charlie Chan Soprano. The night also featured performances by R&B/soul artist Dreion B.M. ‘20, jazz prodigy Grace Kelly B.M. ‘12, student and Latin music artist Esperanza Delgado, the Berklee Indian Ensemble, and alumni American roots band the Ruta Beggars. 

Proceeds from the Encore Gala support Berklee City Music, a recognized leader in creative youth development. Founded over 26 years ago, City Music works with marginalized communities to help develop talented youth and provide them with pathways to college, both through in-person and virtual classrooms. City Music reaches thousands of students in Greater Boston and across the country, and provides vulnerable youth an opportunity to develop their talents and express their voices in a safe, supportive environment.

Copresenting sponsors included Abrams Capital and Bain Capital Community Partnership. Encore Gala cochairs included Michael and Barbara Eisenson, Jim and Judy O’Brien ‘14P, and David and Lori Sprows.