You perhaps saw the recent “Music Parade”, which played and marched on Friday, July 15, from the Boys & Girls Clubhouse on Sixth Street down West Broadway to the Boston Police Department’s Station C-6. It was quite an event – the creation of Dawnmarie Salmons, the Music Director at South Boston’s Boys & Girls Club. The event was evidence of Dawnmarie’s love of music and her ability to think “outside the box”.
Dawnmarie is a local young lady. She was brought up in the Clam Point neighborhood of Dorchester and went to the Boston Arts Academy. Her first key encounter with music took place at an early age; it was both memorable and transformative. Dawnmarie was in the fourth grade when a high school band visited her school. The band marched up and down the corridors, and she was totally captivated by the sound of the band’s French horn – a French horn, properly played, is variously described as “rich”, “melodic”, “haunting”, “mellow”, whatever. It certainly does not sound “brassy”. Her love affair with music began right then.
In addition, Dawnmarie has always loved to sing, but she used to suffer from intense stage fright and was terrified of performing before an audience. This behavior eventually led her to an intriguing piece of self-analysis. After enrolling at Berklee School of Music, she realized that she was – in a sense – “hiding” behind her French horn. Her singing amounted to a sort of personal “escape” mechanism. She overcame stage fright, and ended up with a double specialization – voice and French horn – from Berklee.
Dawnmarie was granted her degree in Music Therapy from Berklee School of Music in 2013. She served as an intern for a year at Children’s Hospital while working part-time at the South Boston Clubhouse. She worked at the Quincy “Y” for a year, and then rejoined the Boys & Girls Club after the Edgerley Family renovation was complete.
And she keeps (very) busy. She’s the oldest of four brothers and sisters – she’s their “you-can-do-it” person and their cheerleader. Her professional activities include working on a CD at a studio in Harrisonburg, Virginia, that she calls the “Feel Good Mix Tape”. Most important, she has just enrolled in a concentrated, five-semester Masters program at Berklee. And think about this: Dawnmarie was eligible for a full music scholarship in the Massachusetts state college system. She chose instead to go into debt and attend world-famous Berklee, which admits only one out of three applicants. “Music is my life”, she states simply but emphatically, even though someone once told her, “You’re not going to get into college.”
Dawnmarie becomes visibly enthusiastic when she discusses her work at the Boys & Girls Club. In her opinion, the Club members are strong and resilient. They need music to express themselves – music confers its own learning power. With good reason, Dawnmarie is especially proud of the “Music Parade” to Station C-6. The officers loved what the kids did – the young musicians sang “You Are My Sunshine”, and then they got a tour of the stationhouse. As Dawnmarie puts it, “It was giving back to the community with music.”