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Black Artists and the Soul of Our Music: A Virtual Performance

Lacretia Johnson Flash is the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and provides strategic vision and leadership for Berklee’s institutional diversity and inclusion initiatives and priorities. She advises Berklee’s leaders on practices and strategies to achieve inclusive excellence, and collaborates with stakeholders and partners across the institution to support the goal of becoming a more inclusive community. She oversees the Diversity and Inclusion team in the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Throughout her career, Flash has led institutional diversity and inclusion efforts, and has contributed to the national conversation on diversity and multicultural change in higher education organizations through her research and scholarship on multicultural organizational development, keynote addresses and speeches, and a nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development series.

In addition to her professional work, Flash is passionate about the visual arts, dance, and gardens.

Chicago native Kenn Brass served as chair and assistant chair of Berklee's Professional Music Department for 26 years from 1988 to 2014. Now he has set his sights on the classroom. Brass has been involved extensively in various musical settings, embracing a myriad of traditional and contemporary musical styles. A trumpeter by trade, he has performed with groups and individuals the world over, including Nancy Wilson, Mitzi Gaynor, the O’Jays, the Temptations, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, to name a few. He continues to perform regularly in the New England area as co-leader of the band Enfusion. 

While at Berklee, Brass has fulfilled a longtime commitment with the Five-Week Summer Performance Program in addition to being an adjunct professor at nearby Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He has also served on various area advisory boards in conjunction with working with a number of community-based organizations with an arts-centered focus.

Ruka White is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He began his dance training as a scholarship student with the Miami City Ballet, where he danced for eight years. He received a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University and Hollins University, respectively. White has danced professionally with Ballethnic Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), Philadanco (Philadelphia Dance Company), Armitage GONE!, and the acclaimed Limon Dance Company. He has appeared alongside such artists as Maya Angelou, Shirley Murdock, and Missy Elliott.

Grammy-nominated artist and accomplished educator Tia Fuller has been the featured saxophonist with pop diva Beyoncé, featured on the I Am…Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé Experience, and Live at the Wynn Theatre worldwide tours (2006–2010). In addition, she served as assistant musical director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour and performed with Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project and Money Jungle tours.

Fuller has recorded five albums: Healing Space, Decisive Steps, Angelic Warrior, Pillar of Strength, and Diamond Cut, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Her quartet has performed at festivals all over the world, including in Panama, the Netherlands, Italy, Angola, and South Africa. 

Fuller has been featured on the cover of DownBeat and JazzTimes, and in a national J.Jill campaign celebrating dynamic women in the arts. An opinion piece she wrote for NBC News, “2019 Grammy Awards: Why I’m Using My Nomination to Speak out in the World of Jazz,” has drawn widespread acclaim. She has received numerous awards and marks of distinction, winning the JazzTimes Critics’ Poll for best alto saxophonist (2018) and the DownBeat International Critics’ Poll Rising Star award (2013 and 2014). She received the Benny Golson Award from Howard University in 2018. 

A devoted educator, Fuller directs Berklee’s Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, and Micki Miller ensembles. While balancing the worlds of education and performance, she is instrumental in facilitating master classes, clinics, and lectures worldwide. Fuller holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Spelman College (magna cum laude) and master’s degree in music from the University of Colorado, Boulder (summa cum laude).

Simone A. Francis is the Assistant Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Engagement in the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Office of the Executive Director, Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She identifies as a West Indian educator and diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner grounded in community and creative practice. She aims to celebrate the phenomenal work of Black creatives and utilize her skillset to facilitate meaningful community building efforts amongst students, organizations, and social-justice driven groups. At her core, she believes that telling Black stories and amplifying Black narratives gives us the tools for radically reshaping our futures and driving social change.

Simone is the Founder of Anansi Creative Studio, an organization that centers authentic storytelling, community centered practice, creative expression, and (re)imagination as tools for building stronger communities and inclusive spaces, and offers unique cultural and educational engagement opportunities for a wide range of audiences with storytelling and creative expression at the core. She is also the Curator of reIMAGINED, a digital platform housed within Anansi Creative Studio, that celebrates the beauty and boldness of Black creatives. 

She currently serves on the Directorate Boards of the Pan-African Network and the Coalition of Multicultural Affairs in the American College Personnel Association. She has worked in local and international environments, including schools such as Indiana University, Stanford University, NYU, and NYU Shanghai in China. Beyond her various roles in the education world, you can find Simone caring for her plant babies, cooking, traveling, and vibing to reggae, dancehall, soca, and old school r&b. She enjoys stillness, quiet, and the solitude necessary to clear her mind and engage in deep reflection. 

Prince Charles Alexander is a Grammy winning, multi-platinum producer, mixing engineer, recording engineer and educator. His client base includes Mary J. Blige, the Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Usher, Boyz II Men, Brandy, Babyface, Sting, Aretha Franklin and many more. Charles’ accolades include more than 40 Platinum and Gold certifications from the RIAA, 3 Grammy wins and 7 Grammy nominations from NARAS, and a Victoire de la Musique (the French equivalent of a Grammy).

Prince Charles is currently an active producer/engineer as well as a Professor in the Music Production & Engineering Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he created their Commercial Record Production curriculum. He is the author of: Commercial Vocal Production for the Graduate curriculum and Vocal Production for the Undergraduate curriculum at Berklee Online; as well as the free Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Vocal Recording Technology for EdX.org and The Art of Vocal Production for Coursera.org. PC is currently wrapping up the authoring of a book on hip-hop technology (Berklee Press). 

Professor Alexander was an Adjunct Instructor at NYU’s Clive Davis Dept. of Recorded Music, teaching Music Production and taught Music Production and Engineering at the Institute of Audio Research, in NYC. Prince Charles has lectured at the City College of New York, Pace University, the School of Audio Engineering NY and Atlanta, the University of Oslo (Sweden), Cape Town Academy at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and local Boston high schools and grammar schools. He is a member of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Grammy Committee Board of Governors, the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the Musician's Union Local 802 in NYC as well as managing up and coming talent through his production company Ark Angel Music, Inc. 

Professor Alexander is the subject of video discussions on music production and technology filmed by: Sennheiser and Izotope.

Haitian born and Brooklyn based Val Jeanty is a Afro-Electronic music composer, drummer and turntablist. Her installations have been showcased at The Whitney Museum, The Moma, The Lincoln Center in NewYork City and internationally at The Biennale in Venice and SaalFelden Jazzfest in Austria. 

NYSCA fellowship 2019 recipient Val Jeanty has worked with a diverse group of artists including Anthony Braxton, Craig Taiborn, Andrew Cyrille, Vernon Reid and the late great Geri Allen. Other highlights include “Fascinating Her Resilience” a Wesleyan University commissioned multimedia performance collaboration with professor Gina Ulysse and with Afro-Cuban bassist Yosvany Terry on his Grammy nominated album “New Throned King”.

Watch the performance on YouTube anytime!

Join us for a virtual performance celebrating and honoring Black artists, while reflecting on Black history to move towards an empowered future. Ensemble and Dance faculty Tia Fuller, Ruka White, and Val Jeanty, will draw on inspiration from gospel, soul, jazz, and dance showcasing the talents of Berklee's Black student community. Hear reflections from the Black student organizations on campus and leaders Lacretia Johnson Flash and Kenn Brass.

Along with hosts Prince Charles Alexander and Simone A. Francis, this event will educate, heal, and empower through words, dance, and music. Audience members are invited to attend this free virtual performance featuring Black artists of today and tomorrow!