Search for Berklee-Rahman on YouTube and a number of videos pop up, all from a concert organized by the Berklee Indian Ensemble in the US, in honor of A.R. Rahman, for his immense contribution to music.
A striking presence in all the videos is a sari-clad young woman with liquid eyes and a patch of gray running down her otherwise long dark hair.
“Jiya Jale Jaan Jale,” the Berklee artistes sing, accompanied by the dusky beauty on the piano.
Meet Annette Philip, the Keralite who organized and arranged the music for this much-applauded concert. It certainly was a special moment for Annette, faculty of the very prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.
It was on an Inlaks scholarship that Annette landed at the Berklee College of Music after her formal education in Delhi. She also bagged the coveted Sylvia Zoonz Memorial Scholarship. She completed her course and joined Berklee to teach music, an opportunity that only the cream in music can vie for. To be able to teach in the world-renowned music school is the chance of a lifetime. And Annette earned it on her merit.
Annette took up the task of forming an Indian ensemble in Berklee, which has a wide and faithful following on YouTube. It was during her tenure as director of the Berklee-India Exchange Programme that the Rahman tribute concept came up. Annette brought the Mozart of Madras over to Berklee and played a vital role in organizing the show, which won for her tremendous praise and worldwide attention. The concert, a string of Rahman hits, rendered by Berklee students, faculty musicians, and dancers, has been trending on YouTube for the last three years.
Annette hastens to thank and honor Rahman for being one of the musical greats who inspired her and helped her choose her career.
Annette also happens to be the creative director of Berklee’s “Women of the World” quartet. Women of the World also went on to win the first prize in a world Acappella contest. In 2016, she won the “India New England News” Woman of the Year award. Her composition “Dere Na” (Women of the World) fetched her special honor from the Independent Music Awards. Her list of laurels includes the Berklee Urban Service Award, the Bharath Nirman Puraskar and a host of others.
Annette loves to be draped in a sari. Despite being in the thick of western clothes, it’s the sari that she comes in always. There’s nothing as sweet and as seductive as a sari, she says. That and her streaks of gray set her as a class apart. The gray, which came calling for no reason whatsoever when she was a nine-year-old, has now become her style statement, says Annette.
Annette loves music of all genres, be it Balkan, Israeli, Sufi, Senegalese or any other for that matter. She sings in Malayalam and is a fine pianist too.
Hailing from the Kandathil family in Nedumpram, Tiruvalla, Annette is the daughter of K.P. Philip and Mary Philip.