Music Industry Moves: Berklee Establishes Al Schmitt Engineering Scholarship

Music Industry Moves: Berklee Establishes Al Schmitt Engineering Scholarship

Berklee College of Music has established a scholarship named after Grammy Award-winning engineer Al Schmitt. The fund was created by the school’s Music Production and Engineering Department and seeded with a $50,000 gift from the endowment fund of former Berklee faculty member Wayne Wadhams, who played a key role in building the department, beginning in 1983. The Al Schmitt Engineering Scholarship will aid selected students majoring in music production and engineering.

The tuition-based scholarship will be awarded to a single student annually, beginning in fall 2022.

Schmitt died in April at the age of 91. He’s known for having received more Grammys for engineering — 20, not including his separate Latin Grammys and a National Trustees Award — than anyone else in his field. In 2015, he became the first engineer-mixer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Highlights in his discography included Steely Dan’s “Aja” and Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company,” marking just two of the 10 occasions on which he received the Grammy for best engineered recording or best engineered album (non-classical). Schmitt had 36 Grammy nominations in his career, according to the Recording Academy website. His last two Grammy wins, in 2012-13, came for working with Paul McCartney on his album of standards, “Kisses on the Bottom,” and its “Live Kisses” home-video sequel.

The more than 150 gold or platinum records that bore his name in the credits included recordings by Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Josh Groban, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

“Al Schmitt would be so honored and pleased, as is his family, at making the scholarship available,” said his wife, Lisa Schmitt. “We can think of no greater way to celebrate Al than to financially assist those attending Berklee who want to follow in his footsteps.”

Added Rob Jaczko, chair of Music Production and Engineering: “I can’t think of a more meaningful way for us to honor a man that defined every benchmark of the craft of music production and audio engineering. Al’s work embodied limitless musicality, stunning technical ability, and most importantly a sense of warmth, compassion, and humanity. The MP&E Department at Berklee is proud to award the Al Schmitt Engineering Scholarship to recognize and inspire the next generations of audio professionals.”

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