According to Berklee, “One student is selected each year to receive the Billboard award based upon their outstanding musicianship and strong academic record at Berklee, as well as the probability of success in their pursuit of a performance and recording career.”
In April, 2011, Benzie will be representing Berklee at Monterey’s Next Generation Festival, and the Savanna Jazz Club in San Francisco.
Previous recipients of this award since 1996 include Jaleel Shaw and Walter Smith III. Benzie is the first British student to win it.
Jennifer Rimer, Headteacher of his old school, St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh congratulates him:
“I am delighted to send congratulations to Alan on becoming the UK’s first ever Billboard Award winner. Alan’s teachers and fellow pupils are very proud of his success.
Alan came to St Mary’s Music School as a boarding pupil, playing classical violin. Many different styles of music are involved in the life of Scotland’s specialist music school. In his mid teens Alan discovered jazz piano and has never looked back.
Alan made a notable contribution to the school’s jazz programme, both as a pianist and composer, and won the school’s Jazz Prize in his final year. In 2007, at the age of 17, while still a pupil of St Mary’s Music School, Alan was named BBC Scottish Young Jazz Musician, a title awarded in 2009 to fellow pupil, Andrew Robb, who played double bass in the Alan Benzie Trio.
Alan’s outstanding musicianship and strong academic record were recognised and, with generous support from Scottish trusts, primarily the Dewar Awards, he continued his studies at Berklee College of Music. Very well done, Alan, we always knew you would work hard and deserve success.”
St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh