Gail McArthur-Browne is an assistant professor in the Contemporary Writing and Production Department at Berklee College of Music. She is a saxophonist, composer, and arranger from Glasgow, Scotland. She has performed with many great musicians, including Benny Carter, Gerry Mulligan, Grover Washington, Don Cherry, Jackie McLean, Antonio Sanchez, Christian McBride, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Maria Schneider, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Vital Information, Dave Weckl, and Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez.
McArthur-Browne has won many awards, including the Prince's Trust Award, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) James Milne Award, Scottish International Education Award, the Cross Trust Award, Mary Patton Rowan Award, and the Cosmopolitan Magazine and American Express Performing Arts Award. She has made several television appearances, including U.K. Channel 4, Down the Line, CNN's Berklee Special, WBZ-TV News, and Nitebeat on CN8. In 1999 and 2001, she was commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council and composed pieces for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
"A lot of first-semester students are either away from home for the first time or in a foreign country for the first time, and it's a very daunting place for a lot of them. Some of them feel quite lost and very unsettled. I'm always there to listen, if they need someone to talk to, and I talk about what my experience was like coming from Scotland. I arrived at Logan Airport with two suitcases and my saxophone, terrified out of my mind—I didn't know anybody in the whole continent—but then coming up Mass. Ave. in the cab and seeing that sign, Berklee College of Music, that was like winning the lottery."
"I have had a lot of bad experiences as a woman musician, a lot of resistance. Especially older men have a problem with it—they think that because you're a woman you're supposed to be married and having children and you've got no business being on stage. But a lot of the time I've found that once they realize that you're really serious about what you do and once they hear you play, then they kind of warm to you. I've had some horrible experiences just because I'm a female, but I've never let it tarnish my picture of other musicians, whether they be male or female. I just try to present myself in the best possible light and work to everyone's strong points."
"I think a lot of the time, especially when you're on stage, there's a double standard. If you're not glamorous, they think there's something wrong with you. If you're too glamorous, they think there's something wrong with you. I played in this band, and they said to me, 'We know you can play, but that's not what you're here for; you're here for the sex appeal. So you have to wear short dresses.' Now that I'm a little bit older, I'm not as sensitive, and I just take everything with a bit of a grain of salt and try to put some humor into the situation and make them see how ridiculous they're being."
"I've never experienced anything like that at Berklee. Not as a student, not as a faculty member, never. Everybody here recognizes that everybody else is here because they want to be a musician. That's something that I think makes Berklee really unique, because in the real world, sure as fate, at some point, you encounter it. Especially coming from Scotland; it's a very macho society. Even when I go home now, I still get a lot of it. I just tell them straight out, 'You've got a problem. I'm not the problem; you're the problem.' And they think I'm very Americanized."