October 18, 2016
When I started working at Berklee Groove last year as a Staff Writer, I had so many ideas for what the publication could do, but I was also shocked by the number of students who were unaware that we even have a school paper! I put my mind to simply writing consistently and doing good work, talking about Berklee Groove to whomever would listen. At the end of the year, when the position of Editor was offered to me, I accepted it joyfully and spent the summer thinking about my vision for it going forward.
Listen: we all have classes and outside gigs and lives and bills, but we also all have this great resource to get our voices heard. While everyone’s trying to get their new single published on Earmilk or Pigeons & Planes, there’s a place right on campus where you can share what you’re up to with your peers. The caveat there is that you STILL have to approach the paper with a level of professionalism, just like you would any blog, newspaper, or magazine.
Berklee Groove Sessions was my idea to take music off the page and onto the stage in a judgement free and intimate atmosphere. We don’t all have to be on the BPC stage every night. Sometimes, it’s good to pare down your musical setup and just share lyrics and good music with the crowd without all of the glitz and lights. There’s a place for both scenarios, and I just wanted to create the best space for the scenario I want to occur. I was elated with Tatum from The Birn agreed to host the show. It was hard work to pull off, but in the end, we had four great performances.
When the team and I listened to Jennie.O’s submission, we weren’t sure if her music had what we were looking for because it was heavily produced. Her songs were good, and the music was enjoyable, but we went back and forth about whether or not she’d fit into the vibe we were trying to create with the event. Ultimately, I made an executive decision to put her in the show because I felt her voice had power and that was the most important part. She didn’t disappoint, having a four piece band join her for her performance, she mixed a set with covers and originals and really started the show off with a strong performance.
I listened to Hugh Macdonald’s submission for about 30 seconds before deciding he would be in the show. The guy has chops and tells stories. Whenever an artist is acoustic, I expect their lyric writing to be astounding because the accompaniment will be very much pared down to the bare necessities. It was just Hugh and his guitar(s) at Berklee Groove Sessions taking us into worlds he created with words.
|Fifty | Fifty| was a discussion in the news room. Would bringing an electronic element into the show disrupt the vibe and the acoustic feel other performers brought with their live instruments? That was the question that we asked ourselves multiple times, ultimately with the group’s performance and ambient feel winning us over. They brought this same feeling to the show, and made me want to pick up my Ableton again.
Finally, Cedric Jackson, II closed out the show, and I knew when I came up with the idea for Berklee Groove Sessions that I wanted him to be a part of it. After hearing him sing last year at Niya Norwood’s show in 1A, I was blown away by his talent and passion for music. Admitting at the show that he had been under the weather, and that Friday was the first day of normalcy he’d felt in a while, he still blew the crowd away with his gift, garnering yells and other vocalists singing along from the audience. This is ultimately the kind of excitement I think we should all be inspiring in each other during our time here at Berklee. When we’re in the room with greatness, it shouldn’t evoke jealousy or self-pity, but it should provoke us to harness our own greatness and bring it to the table with both confidence and humility. Berklee Groove Sessions will happen again, and I hope that as it continues, it becomes a space for all of us to continue to build upon our musical gifts in a spirit of collaboration, support, honest feedback, and growth, and always beautiful, beautiful music. Thank you to everyone who was there.
Dominique Jones | Editor-in-Chief