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10 Musicians That Made It Big After SUNY

If you follow along, we recently explored SUNY Alumni In Television and Movies This Semester to great acclaim! So, naturally, it is time to highlight talented SUNY alumni in music. This fits perfectly with the start of Round I of Music Madness, which pits 13 of some of the top musical artists in the SUNY system against each other to discover who is the voters’ favorite SUNY star.

Of those who have attended a SUNY school before this year’s Music Madness contestants, many have been awarded impressive recognition around the world. From single-man/woman bands to complete rock groups, the lineup of 10 Musicians That Made It Big After SUNY may surprise, intrigue, or confirm your beliefs about them!

Click past the jump to see the complete list…

Regina Spektor1. Regina Spektor is a singer-songwriter and pianist. Spektor graduated from SUNY Purchase College with honors in 2001 after completing the four-year studio composition program in three years! She is best known for anti-folk music featured in movies and television shows like Girls and Grey’s Anatomy. She sang the theme song for the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

Moby2. Moby is an American singer-songwriter, musician, DJ and photographer. He is well-known for his electronic music and helped bring electronic music to a mainstream audience in both the UK and the United States in the 90’s. Moby attended SUNY Purchase College and has since sold over 20 million albums worldwide and has been blanketed by awards and nominations, including the Billboard Artist of the Year and Album of the Year Awards in 2002.

Kiss Kiss3. Kiss Kiss is a rock band that was first formed at SUNY Purchase by members Joshua Benash and Jared Kams. The band, well-known for its unique sounds in part achieved by utilizing an electronic violin, took inspiration from all angles; their name is from a series of short stories by Roald Dahl and they have a myriad of musical influences.

Monty and Avery Lipman4. Monte and Avery Lipman are major power-players in the music industry. After graduating the University at Albany in 1986 and 1988 respectively, they founded Republic Records where they signed artists like Colbie Calliat, Florence + The Machine, and Enrique Iglesias. They have multiple partnerships with television shows and movies like The Voice and The Hunger Games.

Natalie Merchant5. Natalie Merchant was the lead singer of the rock band 10,000 Maniacs before venturing off to a solo music career. As a Jamestown Community College student she gravitated to music by participating in the local campus radio station. Her debut solo album, Tigerlily, was a critical and commercial success in 1995, relaunching her career. (BONUS: Merchant was granted an Honorary Doctorate from SUNY New Paltz in 2009)

horizlineRead MoreSUNY Family “SUNY Family” Earns 16 Degrees, Attends 11 SUNY Campuses
This photo was tweeted and gained a lot of attention. We reached out to the family to learn more… horizline

CG6. Christine Goerke is a Grammy Award-winning dramatic soprano. Goerke attended SUNY Fredonia in the fall of 1986, where she became more interested in vocal music and decided to pursue a degree in vocal performance. In 1994, Goerke graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in voice and went on to become a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Program from 1994–1997.

B Martin7. B. Martin is a hip-hop artist who graduated from the University at Albany with a degree in business. He has worked with and performed alongside hip-hop heavyweights like Mac Miller, Lupe Fiasco, Big Sean, Young Jeezy, and Snoop Dogg. Most importantly, Martin released “SUNY Anthem” this spring, which chronicles the story of his college experience.

Blue Oyster Cult8. Blue Öyster Cult is a heavy metal rock band that grew up together in Long Island and, subsequently, attended Stony Brook University. They are best known for songs such as (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, Burnin’ for You, and Godzilla. Since the band’s first album release in 1971, BÖC has sold 24 million worldwide–17 million of those outside of the United States.

Ingrid Michaelson9. Ingrid Michaelson is a singer/songwriter who is an alumna of Binghamton University.  Her music can be heard throughout modern culture–from a Tropicana commercial to an Old Navy commercial to the backtrack of several popular television shows, like Grey’s AnatomyScrubs, and One Tree Hill. (BONUS: Michaelson’s time at BU is referenced in her song, The Hat)

Ben Mauro10. Ben Mauro is a guitarist and background vocalist who has worked with artists like Lionel Richie, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, and Nelly Furtado. He attended Onondaga Community College and now has his own band, 13Curves, which was formed in 2007.


Who is your favorite SUNY musician? Tell us in the comment section or chime in on Facebook and Twitter!


Photo courtesy SUNY Fredonia

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Written by Shaniese Alston

Shaniese Alston was a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York for the fall 2013 academic semester while a student at the University at Albany.

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There are 18 comments

  • Gerry says:

    Cindi Lauper went to New Paltz

  • Gerry says:

    Harry andTom Chapin both attended SUNY Plattsburgh.

  • Mary E. Hershberger says:

    How come you never put Imani Coppola on these lists? She went to SUNY Purchase.

  • liv says:

    Renee Flemming went to Crane

  • Brad says:

    The goo goo dolls went to Buffalo State

  • Fabrizio Moretti, drummer for the Strokes attended SUNY New Paltz.

  • I would include Elizabeth Schulze, conductor of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. She did her graduate work in conducting at Stony Brook University (SUNY Stony Brook).

  • Barry Tuch says:

    Jay Beckenstein of Spyro Gyra also went to SUNY Buffalo

  • Lori Deemer says:

    Nice to see a dialogue about music! Fredonia has more than a handful of active, well-known artists and educators.
    Barbara Kilduff (internationally performing opera soprano),
    Roberta Guaspara (music educator–Meryl Streep played her in Music of the Heart), Kent Kanppenberger (recent Grammy Music Educator Award winner),
    Bennett Reimer (music educator), John Poppo (audio engineer) is also a Fredonia alum, along with Domonic Sack (sound designer) and Brian Usifer (musical theatre director, pianist on Broadway)… As with all of these schools I’m sure, there are too many to name!

  • Well, Nice information. I think suny had really achieved a lot in making the best of other people career as musicologist.

  • Christy says:

    Not only one of America’s greatest opera stars in HISTORY left off the list – Renee Fleming, but world famous opera star Stephanie Blythe is also. And SHE is the honorary co-chair of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam. Pretty funny that she’s working hard for the school, while traveling the world performing at the greatest opera houses and concert halls in the world, and she’s ignored on this list.

  • Maya Froebig says:

    What about Langhorne Slim!?!?!

  • Harry Marenstein says:

    Ysaye Maria Barnwell, who was a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock from 1979-2013, received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from SUNY Geneseo, as did Laura Heimes, a soprano known for he specialty in early music.

  • The Goo Goo Dolls attended SUNY Buffalo State.

  • Renee Fleming is the most famous opera singer in the world. SUNY Potsdam grad.

  • Moe., one of America’s top jam bands, was founded by two former University at Buffalo students, Rob Derhak and Chuck Garvey.

  • You forgot Lou Gramm, Monroe Community College ’71. Formerly of Foreigner.

    From the Songwriters Hall Of Fame webpage:

    “Foreigner’s legendary songwriting partners, Mick Jones and Lou Gramm, together propelled an arsenal of ten multi-platinum albums and multiple Top 30 hits.
    Universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world, the band is responsible for some of the greatest rock anthems of our time, including the worldwide No. 1 hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” which today remains one of the 25 most performed songs in the ASCAP Catalog. Other iconic songs include “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice” and “Long, Long Way From Home” from their self-titled 1977 debut album.
    Major songs in the Jones/Gramm catalog include “Juke Box Hero”, “Hot Blooded” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” A multi-talented and multi-dimensional “musician’s musician,” Jones has also written songs such as “Bad Love” with Eric Clapton and “Dreamer” with Ozzy Osbourne, and produced records for others including Billy Joel’s Storm Front and Van Halen’s 5150.
    A Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated songwriter, Jones is the winner of the prestigious British Ivor Novello Songwriter award for “The Flame Still Burns,” the soundtrack music for the film Still Crazy.”

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