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Giving back to local businesses

Oceanside teen singer to perform at virtual music fest

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Oceanside pop singer Ali Berke is lending her voice to help many Long Island businesses in need as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.

Berke, 19, is one of nearly a dozen artists set to perform in WBLI’s “Keep 6 Feet” virtual music festival on Saturday, which will begin streaming at 5 p.m. on iconcert.tv and will be broadcast on 106.1 FM WBLI radio. Event proceeds will go to several Long Island music venues that have remained closed because of the continuing ban on mass gatherings.

“I think it’s a very empowering feeling,” Berke said. “It’s super, super special that I’m able to be a part of something like that. I love to give back and to help these venues stay open at such a hard time. As artists, we need these venues, and it’s something that we love.”

Berke was one of 10 artists asked to take part in the showcase. She will perform four songs, including her latest single, “Maybe You’re Right,” which is now streaming on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. Though the pandemic has paused live performances, Berke has stayed busy writing and recording material that she said she hopes to assemble on a new album.

Music first became a passion of       Berke’s when she was 3, and she began recording in a studio for the first time at 13. She moved to Oceanside from Manhattan with her family when she was a child, and graduated from Oceanside High School in 2018. She also incorporates dance routines into her songs and plans to head to Los Angeles to meet with a new producer and record more songs when the virus passes.

Berke said she misses touring and performing live, but noted that the quarantine gave her time to write new material, and that it made her relish opportunities like the virtual music festival.

“It’s been very challenging,” she said. “Performing and recording music is my outlet when I’m going through things, and unfortunately during this time I went through some personal things and I wasn’t able to use my outlet to make myself feel better. It made things harder, but I got through it.”

This will mark the second Keep 6 Feet festival after the first one garnered 60,000 views online on July 25. That event supported artists who performed by adding a donate button on viewers’ screens as they played. More than 50 artists jammed at the show for about 11 hours.

Tiffany Castillo organized the festival through her talent agency, Trademark Talent NY, which represents Berke. The second showcase will feature a surprise headliner, who will be supported by Berke, as well as artists Mikey See, Linda Linn, Jaeo Draftpick and many more. Organizers are also looking for more artists, Castillo said, inviting potential performers to contact Trademark Talent NY on Facebook for more information.

“I am big in philanthropy, so it’s one of my favorite things to do is to give back, and our thing is, we bring the dance floor to your living room,” Castillo said. “. . . What I love about Ali is that she’s set far from everybody else. She’s truly who she is. She’s not trying to be like anyone else, and her talent sets her apart from anybody because she’s true to her.”

Described by Berke as “pop with an R&B vibe,” her songs have had many messages over the years, and her music has been used 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 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. Now, she’ll have an opportunity to help venues that are in need, and her father, Jack Berke, said she was happy to do so.

“We’re excited and honored for this opportunity,” he said, “and to be a part of this great cause.”

Berke’s passion for music has also provided her with many memorable experiences, she said, including singing the national anthem at the Nassau Coliseum before a Long Island Nets game and in Coney Island before a Brooklyn Cyclones game, and giving her the chance to perform at the famed South by Southwest Festival in Texas and “God Bless America” before a Mets-Phillies game at Citi Field in 2017. Last year, she had concerts at Adventureland and Roosevelt Field Mall.

Berke has not performed in front of a live audience since she had a show in Times Square in February, during which one of her music videos flashed on one of the giant screens there. She said she hoped to continue her virtual performances going forward, and added that she is eager to get back in front of live crowds again when it is healthy to do so.

“I just want to do what I love, even if we can’t be in large venues right now,” she said.

To keep up with Berke, follow her on Instagram @aliberkeofficial, on YouTube at Ali Berke Music, on Facebook and Twitter at ThisIsAliBerke and on TikTok at Aliberkeofficial. To learn more about the festival, visit keep6feetfest.com.