Berklee College of Music is one of the most well-known music schools in the world. The talent is high-class and typically hails from all around the globe. Student jazz singer and pianist, Sarah McKenzie is no exception.
By Nicole Fell
Photographed by Bobby DiMarzo
McKenzie is a 25-year-old native of Australia. There she found great success in the Australian jazz scene. She has released two albums through ABC Music Australia; the first in 2010 and most recently in 2012. Her most recent album “Close Your Eyes,” won the ARIA Award for “Best Jazz Album.” An ARIA Music Award—Australian Recording Industry Association Music Award—is a large accomplishment for an Australian musician she maintains touring and a recording relationship with ABC Music Australia.
McKenzie’s road to Berklee was more unique than most students, but it is also much more impressive than most. In 2012, she traveled to Perugia, Italy to attend the Umbria Jazz Festival. The festival and clinic was put on by the Berklee Summer Sessions, and McKenzie used this time to train and expand her talent. While Sarah was playing at the clinic she was invited to play in the festival—a moment that changed the course of her life drastically. She was playing when the Dean of Admissions from Berklee saw her playing. After her performance he offered McKenzie a full scholarship to study at Berklee, here in Boston. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” said McKenzie.
When asked if she’d had any doubts about attending Berklee, she immediately clarified she had no doubts. “Berklee College is the real deal,” she added. McKenzie was thrilled to continue her musical education but to also be able to join the American Jazz scene—something she has long awaited.
“I’m here to be a part of American Jazz music,” she said.
McKenzie graduated from Berklee in May and has felt nothing but grateful for her time there. “Berklee has been flexible,” she said. In the past year, while she was still a student at Berklee, she has traveled to Germany and Italy, along with a trip to New York to record. Berklee has allowed her continue to do what she loves while she perfects her craft. This summer—on June 12th—McKenzie will being joining the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall to play her original piece, “That’s It I Quit.” The concert is a Berklee night that will feature three students, including her. “It is the greatest musical honor I have had yet. I can’t wait,” said McKenzie.
McKenzie is excited to branch out into the American Jazz scene post-graduation. She has no plans to move back to Australia in near future. She’s in to for the long haul. Sarah is playing at the Twenty Summers Festival in Provincetown on June 7th and at Scullers Jazz Club on June 5th. To learn more about Sarah, visit sarahmckenziemusic.com.