Music with a message

Oceanside singer Ali Berke's career takes flight

OHS alumna recording songs, set for three Long Island shows

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As she prepares to release new songs and play three shows on her native Long Island, recording artist Ali Berke recalled falling in love with music when she was 3, and recording in a studio for the first time at age 13.

“Ever since I was little, I always loved music,” said Berke, 18. “I always listened to the radio and what’s new, and music has evolved so much that I kind of adapt to it. . . . Growing up, I used to dance in my room, and I always loved it.”

Berke is now in the studio, recording singles that she hopes to release in the fall (they will be available on Spotify, iTunes and other platforms) and eventually follow up with an EP. She is also preparing for three upcoming shows. The first is at Adventureland, in Farmingdale, on Aug. 30 at 7 and 8 p.m., followed by concerts at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Sept. 8, at 2 and 5 p.m., and a show at the Long Island Fall Festival at Heckscher State Park in Huntington on Oct. 12, at 1 p.m.

Berke moved to Oceanside from Manhattan with her family when she was a child, and graduated from Oceanside High School in 2018. This fall she will attend Nassau Community College, where she plans to study music while juggling her career and a waitressing job. She described her sound as “pop with an urban R&B vibe.” She said that an early influence was the TV show “Hannah Montana,” starring Miley Cyrus, on the Disney channel, but these days she is more tuned into artists such as Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello.

As she gears up for her shows, Berke has been recording at the Syosset-based Loft Sound Studio, which is operated by Donnie Klang and Matt LaPorte. Klang appeared on MTV’s “Making the Band” and was signed to Bad Boy Records as an artist from 2007 to 2011. He and LaPorte have helped performers land on “The Voice,” “American Idol,” “The X-Factor” and “America’s Got Talent.” They have also jump-started the careers of Madison Breer, who signed to the same management team as Justin Bieber, and Sky Katz, who appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and then landed a role on “Raven’s Home” on the Disney Channel.

Berke has collaborated with Klang and LaPorte since 2014. “I’m drawn to working with Ali because of her work ethic,” Klang said. “If we had the award ‘Most Improved’ at our studio, she would have definitely won it. She went from a shy, young and timid singer to an outgoing, dedicated and well-rounded recording artist.”

Klang, who serves as Berke’s music producer and recording engineer, recalled that he first thought she could make it in the music industry after hearing her perform at her Sweet 16. Her dedication and determination are unparalleled, he said, noting that the studio canceled all sessions during a snowstorm in 2017, but she managed to get there to rehearse anyway.

Berke said she likes to use music as a platform to help those in need and spread a positive message. Many of her songs focus on anti-bullying, and she was invited to take part in an anti-bullying tour in April 2018 sponsored by Foremost Records. On it, she performed at schools in Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee and Texas. She said that she was teased in high school because of her enthusiasm for singing, and used her own experience to reach the students she met on the tour.

“I still get messages from kids who said watching me perform helped them come out of their shell,” Berke said. “There’s no better feeling than that. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me. I just want my music to speak to people in the same way that others’ music did for me.”

Berke also teamed up with the East Rockaway-based Little St. Nick Foundation to sing to ailing children in the hospital. She said it was empowering to put a smile on their faces and meet with them.

Music has also provided her with memorable experiences, she said. She sang the national anthem at the Nassau Coliseum before a Long Island Nets game, and in Coney Island before a Brooklyn Cyclones game, performed at the famed South by Southwest Festival in Texas and sang “God Bless America” before a Mets-Phillies game at Citi Field in 2017. She said she doesn’t normally get nervous before singing, but she did at Citi Field.

“To walk out on the field and be like, oh, I’m singing for 25,000 people, that was very overwhelming,” she said. “There’s probably no feeling like that ever that I could compare it to. All of a sudden, my face is on the jumbotron and 25,000 people are staring at me. But once I opened my mouth and started singing and saw the crowd’s reaction, I was fine.”

Berke started her career as a singer, but has incorporated dancing into her repertoire. Once a week, she drives to Fairfield, Conn., where she works on choreography at Double Up Dance Studio. Her instructor, Paul Herman, who has worked with artists such as Chris Brown and Alicia Keys, said Berke has come a long way over the last few years.

“Just like anybody stepping into something new, the confidence wasn’t there,” Herman recalled of her efforts when she started out. “You could tell she was a little hesitant. . . . But she’s always open for a challenge and very open-minded. She’s definitely on her way to achieving the goals she wanted.”

Berke said her goal is to find success in the industry and to forge a connection with those who listen to her music. “I think everybody in this business is looking to be the next big thing,” she said. “As great as that sounds, I think my main goal in my career is just to be successful in some aspect. I don’t even mean financially successful. For my music, success to me is having an impact on others. I want them to listen to my songs if they’re having a bad day.”

Berke can be found on Instagram at @aliberkeofficial.