(From left: MUSB Alum Ian Quay, MUBG Alum Danara Schurch, MUBG Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore, Director of Broke* Will Gray; Photo Credit: Katy Vickers.)
On Wednesday, October 19, students from this semester’s Graduate A&R Seminar attended a screening of music documentary Broke* at CMJ 2011. Broke*, directed by independent artist Will Gray, features MUBG Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore, along with Ian Quay (UG ’04) and Danara Schurch (G ’07).
Broke* follows Gray through the recording and release of his debut album. The 78-minute documentary also chronicles the stories of artists and executives searching for ways to thrive in the face of today’s music industry challenges. Such industry superstars as John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Isaac Slade from The Fray share their stories, giving a look into the A&R talent-spotting process from the artist’s point of view.
The CMJ screening was Broke*‘s NYC debut. “It was fun to sit beside Danara at the screening. We got everyone together afterwards so that Ian and Danara could meet the class and talk about lots of things — mostly music, of course!” says Dr. Moore. Schurch, who was very involved in the production of Broke*, introduced Dr. Moore to director Will Gray about four years ago. Ian Quay currently does A&R here in New York City, and was recently featured in an article by Billboard magazine (read the article here).
In the A&R class the next week, the students talked about Broke* and discussed what they learned. “Students commented on — and debated — Will Gray’s career choices, and we talked about the differences between music publishing A&R and record label A&R. Students pointed out advantages and disadvantages of being an artist fluent in many musical styles, and our never-ending debate about cover songs continued with thoughts on Will’s performance of Patty Griffin’s ‘Top of the World’,” says Dr. Moore.
The name Broke* has multiple meanings, such as how to break an artist and how to fix a broken industry. As for the asterisk in the documentary’s title, the Broke* website offers this inspiring explanation:
“Why the Asterisk? In Latin, the word asterisk (asteriscus) means ‘little star.’ We use it in everyday English to note that a word or phrase possesses a special character or to indicate that something has been omitted. The Broke* team adopted the asterisk as a part of our logo to symbolize hope. The logo is a reminder that we all hold within us a special character that enables us to break through the barriers of life and become stars, become champions, become the exception to the rules we’ve always been told to obey. Though you may have been omitted or forgotten, though doubters deny your potential to achieve what they deem impossible, you can use this logo as a badge of courage. Let it embolden you. There are others, like you, fighting for their dreams . . . for their chance to break*.”
Once Broke* has completed the festival circuit it will be available as a DVD and also online.