The Nigerian afrobeats artist, Davido, and American-born Senegalese hip hop artist Akon, both shared their experiences with local artists in Libreville, Gabon, in the African Music Institute, at the behest of the Berkelee College of Music.
This was part of the Berklee on the Road program, which ran in Gabon from 9 to 13 January 2017. It had teachers from the American Music Institute conduct training workshops on contemporary music creation and performance in the form of lectures ad Master class on different topics such as instrumental and vocal technique, improvisation or harmonization.
The program was supposed to give musicians from more than 20 African countries the opportunity to explore Berkelee-style classes for free. Jason Camelio, director for global initiatives at Berklee, said “We believe this is a great opportunity for musicians to experience the Berklee classroom closer to home, as well as to see what is to come once the African Music Institute opens its doors later this year.”
African Music Institute and the Berklee College of Music is opening a Pan-African Music School in Gabon, which will focus on contemporary popular music, traditional African music, and African dance for 300 students. This is supposed to create a path for students to eventually study at Berklee’s Boston campus. The first class will enter in September 2017.
“We are supporting the creation of a new school for contemporary music in Africa, one that will be a source of students who will come to Berklee to enrich not only their experiences, but those of our students, as well,” said Roger H. Brown, president of Berklee College of Music, on the college website. He also said that Berklee “acknowledges the unique role of the African cultural diaspora in the major musical styles underlying our curriculum, including jazz, blues, R&B, rock, gospel, Latin, and hip-hop.”