Six members of Berklee Online’s Music Production master’s class of 2022 have more than just their diploma to show for their hard work. Program director Enrique Gonzalez Müller recently presented Kristen Long, Dan Minchom, Rossely Paul, Owen Longjohn, Craig Limey, and Christopher T. Thompson Sr. with awards recognizing their excellence in music production for innovation, multicultural diversity, and engineering. The awards are provided in partnership with iZotope, Sweetwater, and Slate Digital.
“Innovation, musical diversity, and excellence in sound engineering are foundational pillars of our Master’s in Music Production program,” says Gonzalez Müller. “The other faculty members and I, along with our strongest industry partners iZotope, Sweetwater Sound, and Slate Digital, couldn’t be prouder of the excellent and boundary-expanding achievements of our best and brightest award winners.”
Kristen Long, from Dania Beach, FL, is the winner of the iZotope Award: Honoring Innovation in Music Production. A vocal casting specialist for Royal Caribbean Entertainment with 20 years of experience as a vocal coach, Long’s master’s in Music Production is her second degree from Berklee, along with her bachelor’s in voice performance.
“It is such an honor to receive this award and to be recognized for my penchant for experimentation in my quest to paint the most honest and colorful representation of the music,” says Long.
Originally from Boston, Long describes her style as a songwriter and producer as story-driven and eclectic.
“Each song has a story to tell, and it is up to me to tell it in the most truthful way possible,” says Long. “When writing and producing, the style sets the environment, or scene, so to speak for the rest of the story to unfold upon.”
Long is applying her love for storytelling to an original animated children’s TV show that she conceived and created, Mandy & the Jam Fam. The show is designed to expose kids to instruments, musical genres, and the cultures that they arose from.
“Witnessing cast members from all over the world work seamlessly together, with music and dance the only common language between them, has served as inspiration and hope that we are, in fact, capable of seeing beyond cultural differences, remembering that we are all human, and bringing beauty into this world in working together.”
Long says it was a challenge to juggle her job with Royal Caribbean—gigging three times per week in her musical duo The Minx & The Maestro—and her Berklee Online work, which included completing her culminating experience EP project.
“What I am truly proud of is that I was able to liberate myself from artistic constraints,” says Long. “I have always been a creator and storyteller, but had not yet found the medium that most completely allowed for my voice to come through. Music production has proven itself to be that medium, and I am proud to have produced an EP that is more authentically ‘me’ than anything I’ve done in the past, artistically, and am proud of the quality of the production value.”
Photos by Katherine Richardson
The winner of the iZotope Award: Honoring Innovation in Music Production is Dan Minchom from Toronto. He is a bassist currently touring with guitarist Jesse Cook (pictured below) and country artist Jojo Mason.
Dan Minchom (second from right) with guitarist Jesse Cook (center) and the rest of his band in Quebec City.
“I honestly had no idea that one of my productions would be recognized in this manner,” says Minchom. “It has given me the confidence to continue to pursue music production as a career and an art form.”
As a freelance bassist, Minchom plays many different genres. He says that he’s still figuring out his style as a producer, as he’s still relatively new to the craft, but he is inspired by producers such as Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Aaron Dessner of the National, Tony Berg, and more.
“I really try to emphasize groove and foundation in what I do,” says Minchom. “All music should feel good, so I do my best to make sure the momentum is moving.”
In the midst of his busy tour schedule, Minchom has started working on an EP that he plans to self-produce.
“I’m incredibly excited to take my time and make a collection of songs that I’m not only proud of but [that will] teach me more about producing and my own style,” says Minchom.
Rossely Paul is the winner of the Sweetwater Sound Award: Honoring Multicultural Diversity in Music Production. Paul lives in Dania Beach, FL, where he works from his home studio, but also considers Haiti his home and inspiration for his musical projects.
“I feel deeply honored to receive this award for my work in music production,” says Paul. “I am a customer of Sweetwater and appreciate the quality of their software and musical instruments.”
Paul works in several genres including R&B, pop, Latin, and kompa, a style of dance music popular in Haiti. The artists who inspire him most are Haitian keyboardists Ansyto Mercier and Fabrice Rouzier, as well as Chick Corea and Dr. Dre.
“As a producer, I consider myself open-minded and very hungry to work with new artists and bands from a variety of musical backgrounds and cultures,” says Paul.
Since graduating from Berklee’s master’s program, he has been working on producing a six-track EP of Haitian kompa songs, which will be released this summer. He composed the music for all six tracks and wrote the lyrics.
“The online master’s in Music Production at Berklee has changed my life as a musician and producer,” says Paul. “Words cannot express how much I appreciate the professors who shared their skills and techniques with me. I am so proud of the technical skills and confidence I have continued to develop during my time in the master’s program.”
Owen Longjohn from Grand Rapids, MI, is the winner of the Sweetwater Sound Award: Honoring Multicultural Diversity in Music Production. As his culminating project, Longjohn wrote and recorded a collaborative EP of four multilingual gospel songs under the name Tzaddiqim Gospel Collective. The album will be released this summer.
“Receiving this award was an incredible affirmation of the work and the motivation behind the project,” says Longjohn. “I wanted to produce something that was musically and technically excellent, but also in a way that reflected a broad spectrum of musical cultures and languages.”
As a staff member of a multicultural church in Grand Rapids, he says that producing and writing songs in multiple languages was a huge passion project.
“My hope is that when we release the music of Tzaddiqim Gospel Collective it can be an encouragement and a resource to a lot of other ministries like ours,” says Longjohn.
Since finishing his degree from Berklee, Longjohn has been working in several different areas, from finalizing the business side of his production company, Longjohn Productions, to producing two albums with his clients, to teaching music production at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. He’s also working on next steps for Tzaddiqim Gospel Collective.
“I poured myself into this culminating project and I’m thrilled with how it turned out,” says Longjohn. “In the middle of working on it I also got married and bought a house . . . so I will admit some of the pride is also getting it done in the midst of a crazy season of my life.”
Craig Limey from Bloomingdale, NJ, is the winner of the Slate Digital Award: Honoring Excellent Engineering in Music Production. He has a background in choral and live music, and his goal as a producer is to expand upon his love for this kind of music while using new tools and techniques.
“I love effects pedals and the ability to manipulate sound synthesis,” says Limey. “My heart is driven by musicians who have something to say and the ability to creatively express it.”
With a bachelor’s degree from Westminster Choir College, and now a master’s in Music Production from Berklee Online, Limey says he is excited to continue producing and recording local artists in northern New Jersey by starting his own studio.
“The master’s program at Berklee was filled with so many talented and accomplished students,” says Limey. “I learned so much from the experiences of my peers. To be picked for this award from such a rich pool of candidates is amazing and completely unexpected.”
During his time at Berklee Online, Limey says he is most proud of the work that he did with the band Bergy Seltzer on their Carousella EP.
“The tracks on that are interesting, varied, and organic,” says Limey. “I am especially proud of the first track ‘Jekyll & Hyde.’ It is such a cool tune! By the way, I used the Slate Virtual Mix Rack all over that album. What a powerful set of plug-ins.”
Christopher T. Thompson Sr.
Christopher T. Thompson Sr. from Long Island, NY, is the winner of the Slate Digital Award: Honoring Excellent Engineering in Music Production. Thompson is an inner-city teacher in New York who teaches music production and technology.
“To be honored by a company whose tools that I use on a regular basis to help craft my sound is a big honor,” says Thompson.
Thompson grew up in a musical family, listening to gospel, hip-hop, R&B, and classical music. His favorite artists are Fred Hammond, Marvin Winans, 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, and Jay-Z.
“My style as a musician and producer is very transparent and honest,” says Thompson. “I try my hardest to create with the intentions of communicating an idea or thought.”
Following graduation from the master’s program, Thompson plans to create a new curriculum for his middle school and high school music production classes.
“I’ve been graced with the opportunity to teach music production and music technology for the last 10 years,” says Thompson. “I have some huge success stories in that I have some students who have gone on to become amazing producers!”
Thompson is proud to have simply completed the master’s program in a pandemic, in addition to everything he had to juggle with teaching and life.
“Everything that I have ever earned in my life has never come without some sort of struggle,” says Thompson. “I think the struggle helps you to appreciate what comes out at the end. . . . Hard work, persistence, dedication, and most importantly, passion, will take you to the next level!”