As Myia Thornton drove through the streets of Virginia as a teenager, she often bopped to the voice of singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill. Now Thornton gets to rap the hip-hip icon’s hit “Doo-wop” onstage at “The Show,” a sing-along concert organized by famed producer Rob Lewis.
“Lauryn Hill is a huge inspiration,” said Thornton, a senior music production and engineering major at Berklee College of Music. “She’s the reason I even wanted to rap.”
Lewis, a Berklee alum himself, is bringing together 87 vocalists and instrumentalists for Thursday’s performance at the college. The chosen students will play tunes from today’s pop music catalog — think Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Taylor Swift. Mainstays in the music industry like Gloria Estefan and D’Angelo will also be honored through song.
“The show is designed to bring the way the real world works into the school,” said Lewis, who has worked with high-profile artists such as Christina Aguilera, Fifth Harmony, New Kids on the Block, and Babyface. “It’s a lesson on hit records — what makes them and how to perform them.”
Many students who auditioned to be in Lewis’s production were drawn to his expertise and reputation in the industry.
“I saw the fliers that said ‘Come audition for The Show,’ which is so vague,” said Thornton. “But if it’s with Rob Lewis, I’m going to do it.”
Kentaro Mashimo, a senior contemporary writing and production major, said he’s in it for a different reason: the rehearsals. The Japanese native hopes the intense practices prepare him for the rigor of the music industry. Mashimo will be playing bass guitar for a few jams, including Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk,” his personal favorite.
“The performance is going to be really amazing,” he said. “But what I love is how many mind-blowing things happen while we are rehearsing and how much I learn.”
“The Show” is not Lewis’s first return to his alma mater, where he is an artist in residence. Last year, Lewis organized the college’s annual Career Jam honoring Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone. He was also the mastermind behind the 2019 commencement concert featuring Missy Elliott.
Though Lewis wants the show to be a learning experience for the students, he mostly wants audiences to have fun.
“We’re supposed to give the audience an experience,” he said. “They’re the ones taking time out of their night to be entertained.”
Produced by Rob Lewis. At the Berklee Performance Center, Boston, March 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10, 617-747-2261, www.etix.com
Diti Kohli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.