Drummer John Blackwell, best known for his work with Prince, Justin Timberlake and Patti LaBelle, has been named associate professor of percussion at his alma mater, Berklee College of Music.
"John studied with me just about his entire time at Berklee," recalls John Ramsay, chair of the college's percussion department. "I knew he was good, but it wasn't until some time after he graduated, when I caught him playing on TV with Patti LaBelle, that I realized the full spectrum of his abilities and talent. I remember thinking, 'man, this must be one of those old Motown session guys,' then the camera went to the drummer and, to my surprise, it was John Blackwell."
Blackwell played with Prince for 12 years and has since toured or recorded with Diddy, Crystal Kay, Charlie Singleton, and Maze, to name just a few. With his own band, the John Blackwell Project, he released the album 4Ever Jia, a tribute to his late daughter, Jia. And in 2004, Blackwell established the Jia Kennie Blackwell Memorial Scholarship, which supports outstanding female musicians at Berklee.