Zumix graduate and East Boston resident Starr Desmond was one of 13 young musicians from underserved communities in Boston and across the U.S. who were awarded four-year full tuition scholarships to attend Berklee at an emotional presentation at the Berklee Performance Center this month.
Desmond, a talented vocalist and piano player who has attended Zumix for 13 years, was presented the scholarship by Berklee president Roger H. Brown, Berklee vice president of education outreach and social entrepreneurship Lee Whitmore, founder of Berklee City Music J. Curtis Warner, Jr., and dean of City Music Krystal Banfield.
Desmond’s scholarship came at the conclusion of the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program, the last hurdle for scholarship winners to clear before beginning their college careers. The event was emceed by actor and comedian Sinbad, the scholarship presentation came
“We’re so proud of Starr for not only getting accepted to Berklee College of Music, but also for receiving a full scholarship! Starr has been coming to ZUMIX for 13 years,” said Zumix Executive Director and Founder, Madeleine Steczynski. “We’ve seen how hard she has worked to achieve this goal. We’re sure she’ll do great things at Berklee and can’t wait to see her grow as a musician and a young woman.”
Desmond’s teacher and mentor at Zumix, Ed Meradith, who wrote a letter of recommendation for the young music protege’s Berklee application said he has worked with her for over 10 beginning at the old Zumix building on Maverick Street on an old upright piano.
“We would laugh at how dusty that old upright was no matter how much you cleaned it up,” said Meradith. “Starr has studied piano with me over ten years, in that time I’ve seen her grow from a shy, happy kid to a confident happy young woman. Along the way, her mother was always there for her and always supportive of everything Starr wanted to do; maybe because Starr wanted to do creative things. All throughout these ten years Starr also studied dance. I think dance really helped her to acquire confidence. To know how to move in a room,how to be “present” and how to use space.”
Meradith said as Desmond got older, she got much more immersed in her music.
“She also started studying voice with Brandon Allen at Zumix, and on the suggestion of Madeliene (Steczynski) we started writing songs,” said Meradith. ” Starr had been working on writing a book in her spare time, so I was confident she’d be up for songwriting. Starr is very engaged in the creative process, and broad in her talents — be it music, dance, fashion, social justice, etc She is the kind of student one likes to have — she has worked hard consistently with an emotional balance that belies her age.”
Starr recorded an original song “Home” which was featured an d performed at Zumix’s annual “Run To The Beat” fundraising event and in December of 2013 was chosen to perform at the Christian Science Center’s “Community of Caring” event, where she performed “Home” as well as an anti-bullying song, a new original entitled “Stand Up.”
“She sang with the Zumix Acapella group at Mayor Marty Walsh’s Inauguration, has performed at the Boston Public Library, has continued to write, record, perform, and study,” said Meradith. “I know she’s going to do great things and I’ve been lucky to have worked with her.”
Desmond just completed her second Berklee music summer program, Berklee City Music.
Berklee City Music, a program that delivers high-quality contemporary music education instruction to youth from underserved communities at no or low cost. The Berklee City Music Network is an association of 47 community organizations that serves over 28,000 students in the U.S. and Canada each
Since its inception, Berklee City Music has awarded 236 four-year full-tuition scholarships totaling over $13 million.
Desmond and the other scholarship recipients are among 122 teens who were enrolled in the five week summer performance program on City Music scholarships.