Katarina Pejak is a singer-songwriter from Belgrade, Serbia, and a Berklee College of Music graduate (class of 2014). She was formerly based in Nashville, Tennessee, and was also a recording artist for European blues label Ruf Records (based in Germany). Pejak has participated in a number of FOSDI’s projects,
such as ‘Different Face of Serbia’ (presented at a final event at the London School of Economics) and ‘Let Me Be Myself’ (presented in Rome, Italy).
Her career includes experience in teaching, mentoring and networking within diverse areas and communities. She has worked as a mentor to young songwriters at Berklee College of Music for the Berklee Songwriting Week (summer of 2015).
In 2017, Pejak ran a concert series in Kolkata, India, for students of the Ashok Hall Group Schools – representing the diversity of musical and artistic expression and promoting gender equality.
In 2019, she joined the women blues touring act The Blues Caravan, along with Finnish artist Ina Forsman, and American artist Ally Venable. Countries visited included Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and the UK. Their performance in Belgrade was supported by the Embassy of the United States, as a part of the country’s cultural exchange scheme.
An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Julien Osty (Bachelor’s degree in Music, 2009, and Master’s degree in 2016)developed his skills onstage and during studio recording sessions. He is a former staff accompanist at Berklee College of Music (Boston), a live engineer assistant and a stage manager at Berklee Valencia Campus (Spain).
Osty has performed, as a sideman and leader, all over the world, gaining experience on music tours and luxury cruise line contracts.
He is currently working on original material for his project, Julien Osty Trio
Kostas Milonas was born on August 12, 1988, in Trikala, Greece. He started playing music at the age of three and became a professional drummer at the age of 10. From a very young age he had his first experience of percussion, the piano and guitar, but the drums inspired him the most.
During his career as an all-round drummer he has worked with artists such as Carole King, Willie Nelson, Annie Lennox, Tina Arena, maestro Jorge Calandrelli, film composer Michel Legrand, Alexandra Burke, Tammy McCann, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Wood, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Daniella Lugassy, Deborah Myers, John Patitucci, Steve Bailey, Mario Frangoulis and Alkistis Protopsalti. Milonas is currently the drummer for Greek pop star Despina Vandi.
He holds a degree in drums from Philippos Nakas Conservatory and the London College Of Music, and recently graduated with honours with a degree in performance from the Berklee College Of Music.
Milonas has studied performance with great musicians such as Rod Morgenstein, Ian Froman, John Blackwell , Bob Gulloti , Kim Plainfield , Marko Djordjevic , Ed Saindon, Gustavo Agatiello and Ilias Doumanis.
Jaysus Zain is based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He has been in the forefront of the spoken word art movement in the country since his arrival in 2015. After taking part in several poetry slam competitions with Rooftop Rhythms, Jaysus was awarded ‘Artist of the Year’ from 2016-18 by Rooftop Rhythms, and became the Dubai Poetry Slam Champion in 2016. He went on to become the Chicago and Washington, D.C. ‘Slam Champion’ and the New York ‘Slam’ and ‘Grand Slam Champion’. He has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles and has undertaken three successful tours of the United States of America. Jaysus continues to be a great supporter of the arts scene in the United Arab Emirates, through workshops and mentoring the next generation of poets. He has experience in improvisational theatre and the performing arts and also acted in an educational series, for which he cowrote the script.
With a unique background in engineering and film scoring, Kevin’s work is often at the nexus of music and technology. He has spent the past few years collaborating with Intel to create new forms of music production and performance, and most recently was the music supervisor for Le Musk, an immersive cinematic virtual reality experience, together with his mentor A.R. Rahman. Kevin started working with A.R. Rahman 10 years ago on his Slumdog Millionaire world tour and has now become an integral part of his team, collaborating on other projects such as Pelé: Birth of a Legend, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Million Dollar Arm and many Indian feature films.
Kevin is an Emmy-nominated composer for his work on Momentum Generation. He has also worked on TV, trailers and video games, including Dead Rising 4 and Need for Speed. He recently developed an artificially intelligent (AI) composing algorithm through his collaboration with Intel that will be used for the mascot anthems in the 2021Tokyo Olympic Games.
Kevin spent his formative years in France and the Netherlands, developing a passion for music early on in his life. Although he can play many instruments, he has been a classically trained pianist since the age of six. He continues to perform and to direct live shows, such as the opening musical performance for the Intel 2018 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show, and A.R. Rahman’s Coke Studio show in India. Kevin has also been working as a consultant for Yamaha and Steinberg for the past 11 years and is the West Coast Steinberg representative in the United States of America. In this capacity, he frequents studios to train musicians, artists and music producers on Cubase, Nuendo, Dorico and Wavelab.
Ksenija Kovač-Romano is a professional ballet soloist and renowned choreographer with international experience. She has over 20 years of performance and teaching experience in classical and modern ballet in Ballet and Opera productions. She has worked for and collaborated with famous choreographers and theatre directors. She has a Diploma of the National Conservatory of Music and Ballet Ljubljana, Slovenia, and was a member of the Slovenian National ballet company in SNG Opera in Balet Ljubljana for 23 years.
Layla Al Khouri is an Emirati-American dance teacher and choreographer who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She performed ballet, modern and contemporary dance until, at the age of 13, when she discovered hip-hop dance and this became her passion. Layla graduated from Suffolk University in Boston and continued her dance career in New York and Los Angeles. She has danced for PUMA sportswear, MTV, rap artist Ludacris and the NBA Boston Celtics basketball team, as well as assisting and leading dance workshops and productions at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Layla is honoured to have the opportunity to bring the dance community together in the United Arab Emirates. Learn more about her work through her Instagram, at: lulumak
Mohammed is an investment and strategy professional and a graduate of New York University Abu Dhabi, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Public Policy. In addition to his academic and professional background, he has more than seven years of theatre experience. He completed speech and drama courses at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and has two years’ improvisational theatre experience. He has performed in productions in the United Kingdom and toured at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of a theatre company based in Suffolk. Now working in Abu Dhabi, Mohammed continues to be a patron of the arts, particularly within the spoken word and poetry scene.
Rik Aby is an accomplished actor, having appeared in hundreds of short and feature-length films, television children’s programming and dozens of international commercials, both for television and radio. He is fluent in Arabic and English and performs easily in both languages.
Rik took his first supporting role in a Hollywood film in The Misfits which was co-produced with talent from the United Arab Emirates. The film was directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) and starred Pierce Brosnan, Tim Roth and Nick Cannon. With a full slate of projects ahead of him, Rik’s journey is just starting.
Salem Shukri Al Attas is the first Emirati slam poet and the Rooftop Rhythms ‘Grand Slam Champion’. He has represented the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. through the AGSIW (Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington), as well as in Houston, Texas, and in Kuwait. Salem has trained in improvisational theatre and is an instructor at ‘971Improv’ at NYUAD. He has given public speaking and poetry-writing workshops at the American Community School and at the Theodore Monod School in Abu Dhabi. He also provided voice-over work for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony in Abu Dhabi in 2019 and for a Vice documentary, in which he was also correspondent.
Kathleen M. Howland
Kathleen M. Howland is a certified music therapist and licensed speech language pathologist. For the past 40 years, she has worked with a variety of clinical populations, using music to enhance speech, language, cognition and movement in habilitation and rehabilitation settings. Her doctoral studies in music and cognition have informed and supported her interest in bridging the communities of science and art in order to identify best practices. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Lesley University and Boston University. This gives her the opportunity to bring clinical work into the classroom and academic resources to clinical work.
Dr Howland says “I believe in the power of music to reach people with disabilities that are either congenital or acquired in nature. After 40-plus years in the field, I continue to be amazed at the abilities that are revealed and accessed through music. I believe that music is a force for good in the world and it is my aspiration to serve this belief through the best from both science and art.”
With her captivating multi-octave voice and persuasive cross-cultural message, vocalist and songwriter MAYSSA KARAA defines a new era of musical inclusion. Her songs tell of a journey connecting her origins in the ancient land of Lebanon to her adopted home of Los Angeles, California.
Cinema audiences might identify the classically trained singer’s voice from the hit film American Hustle, where her Arabic version of the Sixties classic “White Rabbit” was a standout track on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack album;
She's also recently had a song (featured in one of the biggest movies in India) produced by Oscar winner Indian megastar AR Rahman which has rapidly climbed up the charts in various countries and hit No. 1 on Apple Music India.
MAYSSA recently launched her full-length English solo debut album
“SIMPLE CURE” with a celebration at the historic “Capitol studios” in Hollywood.
The songs range from piano based simplicity to epic electronic orchestration with a unique blend of American pop and middle eastern influences.
Television audiences might recognize her from the popular PBS Special,
“Enrico Caruso: His Life, His Music, His Cities” featuring Placido Domingo in Naples, Italy. International families might identify her as the ambassador of Sesame Street (Middle East edition: “Iftah Ya Simsim”) through “The Arabic Alphabet Song” that generated over 30M YouTube views so far.
MAYSSA is the Artistic Director at Berklee College of Music’s new campus in Abu Dhabi. Berklee is known as the world’s pre-eminent institute of contemporary music, dance and
theater. Prominent alumni include legendary music producer Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Charlie Puth, virtuoso guitarist Steve Vai, and jazz pianist Diana Krall, composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) among many more. She said: "Since graduating from Berklee I’ve felt the urge to find a way to give talented artists from the region I grew up in to access the Berklee experience. We’re now making it a reality and I’m delighted as I feel like I’m bringing my musical home of Berklee to my home in the Middle East ".
MAYSSA has also been appointed “musical and creative lead” of the Dubai Expo 2020 all female “Firdaus orchestra” initiative under the patronage of AR Rahman.
Melding Arabic influences into Western music is MAYSSA’s forte: notable recordings in her catalog include a version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” accompanied by the band’s Scott Page, to which both Roger Waters and David Gilmour granted their blessings. With music as her passport, she says that it was never an intention to go to the United States and live inside of a bubble. “I came here to expand, to tell others about my culture and learn about theirs.”
Roger Ryan has built a music career and legacy on the premise that Music Is For The SOUL.
He is a graduate of Oakwood College, where he majored in Piano Performance and Graduate studies in Arranging at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
This multi Grammy, Dove nominee and Juno Award winning producer has run the full spectrum of the industry and a wide range of genres. His talents have taken him around the world.
Career Highlights include:
• First Music Director for Gospel diva, Cece Winans, Musician with Country/Pop great Wynonna Judd • Written and/or arranged music for Artists such as Yolanda Adams, Opera Star: Angela Brown, Alvin
Slaughter, Avalon and the London Philharmonic, Mandisa
• Collaborative work with Patti Austin and the San Francisco Orchestra
• Live performances with artist such as Whitney Houston, Lalah Hathaway, Faith Hill, Kirk
Whalum, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Earl Klugh, Denise Williams, Michael W. Smith, Amy
Grant, Kenny Rogers, Donna Summer, Gino Vanelli, David Peck, Tony Rich, Tommy Simms • Arrangement & Production of Shirley Caesar and Friends Project featuring Faith Evans,
Kirk Franklin, Patti La Belle, Oleta Adams and Gladys Knight
• Co-Produced: The Nu Nation Tour with Kirk Franklin
• Co-produced Televised White House Concert for President Bill Clinton, Program for PBS
• Lilo & Stitch Movie Premiere:Hollywood, Ca Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary:Orlando, Fl
• 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, Para Olympics Opening Ceremonies with Stevie Wonder and Donnie
Osmond Battery Park
• Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Induction: Tribute to Diana Ross, VH1 Save the Music Show,
NAMM Trade Convention, Cinema Awards Tributes
An exquisitely gifted pianist, performer, producer, arranger and vocalist in his own right, he continues to passionately lend his skilled musicianship and production expertise toward the enrichment and development of others. This has resulted in Collaborative Partnerships, Masterclass Development and Interactive Learning environments such as:
• International Advisory Council for University of Trinidad & Tobagos’ Academy for the Performing Arts
• Mentor and Counselor to the Music Department at University of the Southern Caribbean
• Masterclass: Music Writing & Arranging in New Zealand and the UK, Mark Kibble (Take 6),
Gordon Chambers (Anita Baker)
• Masterclass for Natural Cultural Foundation in Barbados and continued partnership to Developing a
Holistic Music program to stimulate the Music Industry in Barbados, • 1st Annual Songwriters Camp in Galway, Ireland
Currently, the Roger Ryan Brand is involved in numerous recording projects through his production company, Roger Ryan Music.
Within recent years Roger started a label called AfterTouch Music, which is currently being distributed by Sonys' Indie arm.
For Roger, music is spiritual, “I truly do believe that music is for the soul and should come from the depths of who we are...from the core. The mind isn’t deep enough, neither is the heart.
To inspire it must come from the soul.”
Samer Doumet is a creative industry professional with 8 years of extensive experience whether as a thriving performing artist in Lebanon or as the creative mastermind driving well-received advertising campaigns in the UAE and Lebanon. He now leads Apple Music & iTunes editorial in the Middle East and North Africa and currently oversees music editorial, artists/label relations for 16 markets within the Arab world.
Composer, producer, engineer & professor
Stephen is an Emmy-winning composer and the founder of Berklee's DJ and turntablism classes, which are considered to be the first to be offered by a college of music.
He is currently the Executive Director of BerkleeNYC, where he’s overseen the iconic Power Station recording studios since 2017, hosting sessions for the likes of John Legend, Mick Jagger, Disney's Mary Poppins and Frozen. Alongside this, he is the Dean of Strategic Initiatives for Berklee College of Music at large, and an A&R consultant for the Universal Music Group.
Stephen has produced and engineered albums for a wide range of artists. He is the composer and turntable soloist of the Stylus Symphony, a groundbreaking work that combines a full orchestra with hip-hop, trip-hop and dub step. He is an award-winning educator, whose Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) The Art of Music Production has over 30,000 students. He is also the author Turntable Technique: The Art of the DJ, the first book to teach the turntable as a musical instrument, and DJ Skills: the Ultimate Guide to Mixing and Scratching.
Cellist, composer & studio musician
An acclaimed Palestinian multi-style cellist and composer, Naseem is a striking example of a unique musical voice from the Middle East. He is a classically trained musician and improviser, with a reputation for blending Arabic, jazz and classical western music into his performances.
After studying at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, he was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees for cello performance.
Naseem is a soloist, recording musician, chamber musician, and teacher, currently serving directing the Arab Music Ensemble at Tufts University. He is a global performer, touring with Danilo Perez’s Global Messengers and Amir Elsaffar’s Rivers of Sound Orchestra. He has also performed at many international festivals and performance venues such as the Detroit Jazz Festival, Lebanon’s Beit Aldeen Festival and the Royal Albert Hall.
Francisco Abreu is a Portuguese professional musician, guitarist, composer, producer and educator, currently living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Francisco has made recordings with several Portuguese artists and collaborated with others as a composer, producer or arranger. He is an experienced studio musician in acoustic and electric guitars and teaches these instruments for jazz, rock and pop music, through theory, ear training, improvisation and ensemble. Francisco studied classical guitar in Portugal and has a degree in jazz guitar from Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Amsterdam University of the Arts) in the Netherlands. Francisco has more than 25 years’ experience, both as a professional musician and a teacher.
James Kelly is a DJ, composer, performer, producer, engineer and teacher who is from the United Kingdom. James’s creative work explores the use of the turntable as an instrument. He pioneered the use of a vinyl disc cutting lathe as part of the compositional process in order to create turntable music and has worked in popular and experimental music as well as academia.
Spanning genres from dubstep to pop, funk and ambient, James’s projects have received national radio exposure in the United Kingdom. He toured the UK as a DJ and also with Ginger Snaps, Ola Szmidt and Pure Phase. As a composer, his interdisciplinary projects have included scores for the feature film Honeytrap (2014), the contemporary dance film Cynefin (2011) and for a solo sound art exhibition at the Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton, UK (2016).
James’s teaching focuses on DJ’ing and electronic music production, performance and music education. He wrote an accredited course in turntablism and contributed to producing the Tutoritool, a vinyl record designed to teach the user how to DJ using the records themselves. James has a PhD in turntablist composition from De Montfort University, UK, and previously held the position of Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Northampton.
Samvel Gasparyan is an award-winning Armenian pianist, composer and educator. He has performed at prestigious events and festivals such as the Montreux, Dubai, Kavkaz and Yerevan jazz festivals; Jazz Across Borders, Saint Petersburg; Musikmesse Moscow; the Dubai World Cup; Mother of the Nation Festival in Abu Dhabi; and RedFestDXB.
Throughout his career, Samvel has collaborated with and opened for world-renowned and Grammy Award-winning artists, such as Jamiroquai, Diana Krall, Kool & The Gang, Kasabian, Elvis Castello, Robin Thicke and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. He has also performed with American jazz singers Deborah Davis and Eddie Cole, and with saxophonist Korey Riker (of John Legend’s band) and French harmonica musician Frederic Yonnet.
His recent solo album was released by Universal Music Group MENA and he has contributed to11 studio albums as a sideman, toured in more than 40 countries and performed at prestigious concert halls around the world (the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Kremlin Palace auditorium, Emirates Palace and at MGM Grand Arena).
Brian Dubb is a passionate, energetic and visionary entrepreneur who thrives on empowering teams and leading from the front. He has more than 20 years’ industry experience in startups, in music, content, agri-tech, early AI and travel. He spent his formative years as a professional songwriter, recording artist and performer.
In 2016, Brian flipped the music management model on its head and set up MPAL PRO, a management services solution for established music artists, empowering them to be their own managers. Key clients have included Imogen Heap and her Mycelia for Music and Creative Passports, as well as Lior, Australia's most successful independent music artist.
In 2019, Brian launched Centralized, the world's first web application for artist management, for self-managed artists and new-era managers. It includes guides, workflow checklists, email and agreement templates for all aspects of managing the career of a music artist. It brings process, structure and transparency to the music business.
Brian has been a guest lecturer at Berklee College of Music’s Boston and Valencia campuses. Centralized is a pro-bono supporter of Berklee City Music.
Courtney Harrell has penned songs for Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland, Mary J. Blige and many more. Her work has been featured in several hit films and television shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Think Like A Man and STAR. As a result, her success has led to a Grammy Award certificate and multiple nominations.
Courtney put her first love of singing and her dreams on hold after life led her down an unexpected path: young motherhood. While focusing on raising her son, she went on to build a successful career as a songwriter, writing tunes for some of today’s biggest stars.
Days after her son’s graduation from high school, Courtney joined the cast of the Emmy Award-winning show The Voice in 2016. Her standout Blind Audition performance of Let It Go was the first time she had sung in public in 15 years. It was then that her story and incredible voice captured the hearts of America, landing her a coveted position in the Top 10 and later as a coach on FOX Network’s #1 trending show, The Four: Battle For Stardom.
However, it was her occupation as a mother and as a music teacher for Boston Public Schools in which she found the purpose for her life's work.
Using humour and vulnerability, Courtney shares her journey from welfare to wealth, empowering her audience with truth, strength and the courage to live fully in the face of fear and uncertainty.
Dolly Makhoul is the Regional Manager for the Middle East and North Africa at Believe, leading digital distribution and Artist Services activities.
She has Masters degrees in ecology, immunology and entomology, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and History of Religions. Dolly integrated the Industry of Cultural Products in 2004.
Dolly managed the main branch of Virgin Megastores in Beirut, Lebanon, where she worked for four years, followed by six years in a 360° Music company, developing experience and skills in artist management, production, live events and branding.
In 2014, she moved to Paris and joined Believe to develop the company’s distribution business and services in the Middle East and North Africa.
Gael Hedding is a Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winning engineer, music producer and entrepreneur. He is the Director of Berklee Abu Dhabi and is a former faculty member at Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, where he lectured and developed curriculum on the subjects of music production, sound recording techniques, mixing and live sound, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Gael has also given masterclasses throughout Latin America at colleges like Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Universidad La Salle.
He has worked on more than 50 albums and more than 500 live shows around the world, for artists such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Mexican mariachi singers Aida Cuevas and Pepe Aguilar, jazz legends John McLaughlin and the Caribbean Jazz Project. Some of his corporate clients include Samsung, BBC, McDonalds, Universal Music and Warner.
Gael created the Sandia Sound Studio and Sandia Live ventures in Cancun, Mexico, devoted to music production in the studio and onstage. He is also a founding member and has served as Secretary of the CPI (Circle of Producers and Engineers) at the Latin Recording Academy, and actively serves as an adviser of foundations in Mexico and India devoted to the improvement of culture and the music industry.
Habib Achour started his career at EMI in the early 1990s, promoting labels such as Blue Note Records and Emi Arabia. Later, in his capacity as manager or booking agent, he represented artists such as Erik Truffaz, Anouar Brahem and Dhafer Youssef. He also has experience managing and/or programming festivals in Morocco, Lebanon and France (among them the Festival d´Île-de-France in Paris).
Following on from Marseille-Provence’s tenure as European Capital of Culture in 2013, for which Habib was responsible for music and urban culture, he joined the New Morning nightclub in Paris as Deputy Director. Today, he is Head of International Development for Africa and the Middle East at SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music).
Lamont L. Leak is a music industry consultant, television producer and event curator. In his most recent position as Casting Producer for the Emmy Award-winning television show NBC’s The Voice, Lamont has been instrumental in discovering new talent for the past three seasons. He has also worked in the independent music sector for more than a decade, through a series of entrepreneurial ventures. Lamont is also the founder of ‘TheLivePlaylist’, an indie concert platform which has grown to provide performance opportunities for more than 100 artists across the United States of America each year. Lamont received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University in 2010 and a Master’s degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University in 2016.
Lucia Kaminsky is a digital marketing specialist born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Industry and worked as a Live Production Coordinator for Walt Disney Entertainment in São Paulo, Brazil. She credits her fluency in Spanish and proficiency in Portuguese as reasons why she received these early opportunities. She joined the staff at the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs) and remained there for six years. Starting out as the Assistant to the Executive Director and ultimately becoming the Senior Project Coordinator, Lucia focused on event production, membership outreach and digital content production for the GRAMMY sites. She then moved to Nashville where she managed Strategic Partnerships at Warner Music, working on brand partnerships for artists like Blake Shelton, Brett Eldredge and Ashley Monroe. She joined Borman Entertainment as the Director of Digital and managed streaming partnerships for the roster, which included Keith Urban, Alison Krauss and others. Within a year she had worked her way to Head of Digital, overseeing the digital/web strategy plus international distribution.
Lucia now oversees the digital department at Sandbox Entertainment; a deparment that she was tasked with restructuring. Having noticed that, in most cases, design lives independently but is a crucial element of digital marketing, she aimed to hire for that role specifically within her department. She then hired a social media and platform manager to complete the team. Her main focus is to strategize programmes with DSP and social media partners such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon, Google, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Her primary focus is to optimize digital strategy, fan engagement and content. Her team manages social media, UX (user experience), streaming platforms and creative design for the roster. Sandbox artists include Kacey Musgraves, Dan + Shay, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini and Faith Hill, among others.
FUN FACT: What do Eminem and Celine Dion have in common? They both recorded songs written by Michael Jay.
Michael has more than 30 years’ experience in the music business, which includes a background in radio, promotion, marketing and A&R. He also has in-studio experience as a creative talent, with hit credits as a songwriter, lyricist, record producer and musician. His songs have sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Michael entered the music business as an A&R executive at Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records in Chicago. After moving to Los Angeles he was signed as a songwriter to Famous Music, the music division of Paramount Pictures, where he instantly landed a song on the multi-platinum Top Gun movie soundtrack.
In the 1980s, Michael discovered, developed and shopped a record deal for Martika from the Disney Channel’s Kids Incorporated TV show. He co-wrote and produced Martika’s million-selling debut album which included the worldwide #1 hit Toy Soldiers. Years later, rap superstar Eminem recorded a new version of Toy Soldiers and it became a hit all over again.
In the 1990s, Michael wrote the song Declaration Of Love which Celine Dion recorded for her Grammy Award-winning ‘Album Of The Year’ Falling Into You.
Panos A. Panay (Bachelor of Music, 1994), is the Senior Vice President for Global Strategy and Innovation at Berklee College of Music and leads strategic initiatives. He is the founder of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). He also spearheaded the founding of the Open Music Initiative, which brings together more than 300 music, media and technology industry organisations, and academic institutions focused on streamlining metadata and payment tracking for artists.
Panos leads Berklee’s global strategy to create an interconnected ecosystem of campuses, centres and partnerships around the world that foster and inspire new artistic expressions, idioms and ideas, through leading pedagogy; development of cross-cultural fluency and creative capacity; and seamless integration of technology and online learning.
Prior to Berklee, he was the founder and CEO of Sonicbids, creating the leading online platform to match bands with music promoters, resulting in more than one million new artist shows around the globe, over a 13-year time span.
Richard Furch is at a sweet spot in his career as a mix engineer. After graduating from Berklee College of Music and the SAE Berlin, starting out in New York, he was part of some of the seminal albums of the 2000s such as Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and Usher’s Confessions, as well as hits such as the Fountains Of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom.
Moving to Los Angeles led to him working with all-time music greats such as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He was then tapped by the legendary Prince as the mixer and engineer for his chart-topping Lotusflower/MPL Sound albums. Richard has amassed credits on six Grammy Award-winning albums, from 23 nominated albums.
With more than 25 million records sold, including two diamond-selling projects, one billion YouTube views and more than 350 album credits to his name, he continues to craft profoundly emotional mixes with exceptional sonics for the likes of Frank Ocean, Jay-Z, Tyrese, BJ The Chicago Kid, Tobi Lou, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, The Game, Leela James, India.Arie, TGT, Boyz II Men, The Weeknd, Ledisi, K Michelle, Chaka Khan, JJ Lin, GEM, Tanya Chua and many more.
Growing up on SSL consoles and having learnt from legendary mixers such as Michael Brauer, Chris Lord-Alge and Tchad Blake, Richard obtained an in-depth knowledge and appreciation of analog and digital mixing techniques, an arsenal of vintage and modern gear and, finally, his own no-holds barred mixHaus studios in Los Angeles.
He continues to advance engineering knowledge and to give back to the next generation, with masterclasses at Berklee, the SAE in Cologne and Berlin, the Contemporary Music Academy in Beijing and in online videos.
Rob Lewis is a music arranger, composer, record producer, musical director, film composer, musician and entrepreneur. In his 25 years in the music industry, Rob has worked on several Grammy Award-winning singles and albums, and his production, songs and arrangements have been featured on #1 albums, gold and platinum albums, films, live productions and television shows.
Rob is one of the premier names in the music industry for musical direction. He remains the musical director for global powerhouse superstar Christina Aguilera (for the past 18 years), and served as the longtime arranger and musical director for New Kids On The Block (for 10 years) and Toni Braxton (14 yrs). He has also produced music content and toured with the global artists Backstreet Boys, TLC, Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees. He has sustained a career as a musical director for more than two decades, working with pop stars Fifth Harmony, The Pussycat Dolls, Leona Lewis and Jessica Simpson, as well as R&B stars Brian McKnight, Eric Benét, Deborah Cox and Fantasia, as well as the legends Patti LaBelle and Babyface.
Rob is also a co-writer of Anderson Paak's first single Tints, featuring Kendrick Lamar, from his album Oxnard, produced by Om'Mas Keith and Dr Dre. Most recently, he was the music supervisor and principal arranger for Christina Aguilera's Vegas residency show The Xperience, which debuted in May 2019. Most recently in January 2020, Rob was an on-air personality and music director for the new Nickelodeon music competition show America's Most Musical Family and worked with the contestants to enhance their weekly performances as they advanced in the competition.
Shilpa Ananth is an Indian vocalist, songwriter, composer and producer based in Brooklyn, New York, United States of America. She has a unique sound that fuses the dreamy landscapes of South India with soul, jazz, and electronic music. Shilpa creates art that transcends borders and cultures, blending three of the oldest Indian languages — Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi — with English.
"After graduating with honours from Berklee College of Music, Shilpa released her debut EP Indian Soul and went on to record and perform Grammy Award-winning composers A. R. Rahman, Bobby McFerrin, Bill Whalen and Javier Limon's Original Quartet."
She has also toured extensively with the Serbian female vocal group ROSA, the Berklee Indian Ensemble, Women of the World and with the Bollywood Boulevard musical production, performing at US venues such as Boston Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre, NJPAC, Wolf Trap and The John F. Kennedy Center.
Professor Tonya Butler, J.D., LL.M. is Chair of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music. She is the first woman and the first person of colour to lead the department in its 30-year history.
A seasoned veteran of the music industry, Prof. Butler has more than 14 years of expertise as an entertainment attorney and record label executive, as well as 16 years’ experience running music business programmes and teaching classes in entertainment law. She has a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law and a Master of Laws degree in Entertainment and Media from Southwestern University School of Law, with an international component from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, England.
Prof. Butler is an award-winning motivational speaker, Toastmaster and author of the self-published career guide, The Music Business is Corrupt or Maybe You Just Can’t Sing?, a book about how to take responsibility for your struggling career. She also hosts a bi-weekly podcast called the B.O.M.B. (Business of Music Bootcamp) Podcast, which highlights the business and legal aspects of the music industry, using high-profile cases and celebrity disputes.
Yarub Smarait’s career as a violinist has taken him all over the world, putting him at the forefront of a new generation of musicians emerging from the Arab region. Yarub was born in Amman, Jordan, but now lives in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Inspired by traditional fusions, Yarub’s music radiates with an international appeal that transcends languages, making complex compositions easy on the ear. He doesn’t shy away from breaking the rules, resulting in unique sounds and compositions.
Yarub is curious and adventurous, absorbing influences from Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and the Balkan region. His exploration of Arabic music has also cemented his unique musicality and a distinctive technique in reinterpreting oriental tunes.
Yarub’s performances have impressed audiences across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States of America.