For more than three decades, Mili Bermejo combined the emotionally resonant poetry and musical traditions of her Latin American heritage with the language of jazz to create a unique body of work as one of Boston’s premier vocalists, composers and recording artists.
A member of the Berklee College of Music faculty from 1984 until her death in 2017, she also enjoyed a long career as an educator, passing on the lessons of life-long mentors Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, Gary Chaffee, Mick Goodrick and Elisabeth Phinney to such next-generation artists as Chiara Civello, Lauren Kinhan (NY Voices), Alex Panayi, Sara Serpa, Luciana Souza, Esperanza Spaulding and Tierney Sutton.
Born in Buenos Aires, Mili grew up in the socially and artistically progressive Mexico City of the 1970’s. In her youth, her prominent musician parents opened their home to all kinds of artists, writers and activists, laying the groundwork for her eclectic and inclusive musical vision, as well as her understanding of the social responsibility of the performer.
After a childhood of playing music with her siblings, each becoming an acclaimed artist in his/her own right, she went on to study classical composition at the National School of Music (UNAM) before coming to Boston in 1980 to study jazz arranging and composition at Berklee, which invited her to join the faculty following her graduation.
The first woman to receive the prestigious Achievement in Jazz Award from New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Mili also served as a panelist for the Cambridge Arts Council, Doris Duke Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), taught clinics around the world, and recorded a dozen releases as a leader/co-leader.
Her final recording, Arte del Duo (Ediciones Pentagrama), celebrating her 35-year musical partnership with her husband, bassist Dan Greenspan, was released in October 2016.
“…where Jazz meets Latin with elegance and soul.”
—Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe
"Bermejo is not only one of Boston's most talented singers in any genre, she’s also one of its most musical. Covering material from Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina, Bermejo took the approach favored by the likes of Astrud Gilberto and Flora Purim one step further; she not only combined Latin American music with jazz to showcase the vocals, she made her richly shaded voice a seamless part of the mix…an uncanny sense of rhythm and tempo to make her luxuriant phrasing sound emotionally genuine…compelling listening."
—Bob Young, Boston Herald
"…flat out one of the best singers we've ever had on Mountain Stage."
—Larry Groce, Host of Mountain Stage
"...a style that is part poetry-folk, part Sarah Vaughn sophistication."
—James Isaacs, Boston Magazine
"Mili Bermejo has always been a musical explorer, seeking out new combinations and new concepts in her multi-hued career."
—Jay Miller, Quincy Patriot-Ledger
"Cross-cultural projects are now commonplace, but Mili Bermejo's aesthetic has always been singular...long a fixture on the Boston scene, [she] combines all manner of Latin American folk in a way that gives her music a flavor that’s as up-to-the-minute as it is Old World. She has a cabaret performer's ability to get across a song, and she expressed alternating currents of sadness and humor with understated dramatic flair."
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
"The true magic in Bermejo’s skill as a vocalist goes beyond the emotion that permeates her lyrics. Her gift lies in her unique ability as storyteller, which shines through in 'Tres Veces Heroica,' one of the best tracks of the album."
—Agustín A. Rodríguez, Harvard Crimson
"Mili Bermejo remains one of the most, if not the absolutely most, emotive singer of Latin Jazz music currently recording... the Latin equivalent of Abbey Lincoln. Strong music from a singer/composer who challenges us with her musical honesty.”
—Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence
"Mexico and Argentina are in her blood, Boston academia and progressive jazz are on her resume, and the Latin tinge that is her second nature is at its most compelling when she's surrounded by a sizable ensemble of deft, daring players. The singer doesn’t come down from New England often enough."
—Jim Macnie, Village Voice
"Bermejo has emerged as one of the world’s premier champions of nueva canción-style balladry. A worthy successor to the mantle of such monumental artists as Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra, Bermejo’s warm and animated readings, as on 'Los que se Aman,' with its overtly spiritual tone, and 'Tres Veces Heroica,' which takes its rhythmic and thematic cues from Veracruz, Mexico’s cheerful huapango style, are commanding and invite introspection."
—Mark Holston, LatinoMagazine.com
"....vocalist Mili Bermejo, long a fixture at Berklee, beguiled the audience with her sublimely seasoned voice..."
—Willard Jenkins, Jazz Times
"Bermejo's passionate vocals provide the drama...unique Latin jazz."
—Donna Kimura, JazzReview.com
"A gentle warmth and beauty pervades in Mili Bermejo's throaty singing and lilting songs that pushes the materials through any and all language barriers."
—Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News