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Bunker Hill Community College Alum Joins NBC "Saturday Night Live" Band

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The one-time pianist for the Bunker Hill Community College Jazz Ensemble debuted this month on the season premiere of the NBC hit television show “Saturday Night Live.” Tuffus Zimbabwe, a Roxbury native who attended BHCC and went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music, triumphed over 28 other keyboard artists to win a seat in the live band that plays on the show.

 “Tuffus just stayed in my mind as satisfying all the criteria I was looking for – good feel, nice vibe, sight reading, ability to play different styles,” said “Saturday Night Live” music director Lenny Pickett, a saxophonist who played with the legendary rock band Tower of Power. “Tuffus is a good piano player.”

At BHCC, Tuffus befriended jazz-ensemble leader and BHCC English Department Chair Timothy M. McLaughlin, who is also a saxophonist. “Tuffus just thinks music. He plays jazz and he's played in churches and he composes his own music,” McLaughlin said. McLaughlin, who often plays weekend gigs, brought Zimbabwe along whenever possible. “We played an event at the Kennedy Library, and there was a request to do "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song for which we had no music,” McLaughlin remembers. “Tuffus just said, "Sure," asked the singer the key and off he went, the rest of us tagging along for the ride.”

Zimbabwe came to BHCC as part of a common trend at community colleges. He was home schooled and needed to obtain an official GED in order to continue to a four-year college. His brother is currently a student at BHCC.

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About Bunker Hill Community College
Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, enrolling approximately 18,000 students annually. BHCC has two campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea, and a number of other locations throughout the Greater Boston area. BHCC is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. Sixty-five percent of the students are people of color and more than half of BHCC's students are women. The College also enrolls nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.