Chattanooga Now Courter: George S. Clinton to chair Berklee department

Chattanooga Now Courter: George S. Clinton to chair Berklee department

September 28th, 2012 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

Film composer George S. Clinton, a Brainerd High School and Middle Tennessee State University graduate, has accepted a position as chair of the Berklee College of Music's film scoring department.

He sent me an email last week to let me know of his career move.

"Charlotte and I are moving back there [Boston] late October," he wrote. "I'll still be scoring films, so we'll keep our place in LA so we can go back and forth as needed."

Clinton has lived in Los Angeles since moving there in the '70s to pursue a career in music. He originally planned to be a rock 'n' roll composer and performer.

He signed on with Warner Bros. Music and wrote songs recorded by Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson and Three Dog Night before being asked to compose the score for Cheech & Chong's "Still Smokin'." That led to a full-time career as a film composer.

In addition to offering the world's only undergraduate film scoring degree, Berklee also offers a minor in video game scoring.

"Berklee is a music mecca and, as far as I'm concerned, President Roger Brown and Provost Larry Simpson are rock stars," Clinton said.

Clinton has won numerous awards for his work, which includes scoring the "Austin Powers" movies, "Mortal Kombat," "Red Shoe Diaries" and "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," as well as dozens of others.

He has returned to Chattanooga on several occasions as a guest conductor to present music from his scores for "The Santa Clause (2 and 3)" and the "Austin Powers" films with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

During last season's "Home for the Holidays" performance with the CSO, his daughter, Jessica, sang an original number, giving Clinton what he called one of his proudest moments.

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It seems people either love public art pieces in Chattanooga or they don't, and I see both sides. They are costly and, quite frankly, I don't "get" all of them.

When I look at giant pieces of metal welded together looking as if they might tumble to the ground at any second, I see an engineering wonder, not the history of man's struggle against his inner demons, or whatever it's supposed to represent.

But I strongly believe the pieces add a great deal to our city. Having them makes the streetscape where they sit come alive, and they make the neighborhoods seem vibrant and forward-moving.

The Main Terrain Art Park between The Chattanoogan Hotel and Main Street will very likely help transform an area that needs a boost with greater impact than any other piece of public art has.

The space will include interactive pieces that encourage exercise, a walking track, a stormwater retention area and landscaping in a park like few others in the country.

It will be fun to see and to see how it transforms that part of town.