This year’s list of Connecticut’s up-and-coming achievers according to Connecticut Magazine include an alum who is a Hartford educator and rap artist, another alum who is a Hartford filmmaker, and a third alum who is a jazz recording artist.
Joey Battaglia (aka Joey Batts) is a Hartford public school teacher by day and a rap performance artist by night, who is dedicated to raising money for Connecticut nonprofits that work to help the homeless. After he noticed some of his students were dealing with homelessness, Battaglia was inspired to host an annual Hip Hop for the Homeless, now in its fourth year, to raise funds and awareness. Twice nominated for Hartford’s Teacher of the Year, Battaglia earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis in creative writing from UHart.
Pedro Bermudez is an award-winning director, filmmaker, and cofounder of Revisionist, a Hartford film and cinema music video production company. He is also a former visiting assistant professor of cinema in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he also earned a bachelor’s degree in film studies. A 2013 recipient of UHart’s Alumni Anchor Award, Bermudez also received an MFA from the American Film Institute, and has served as creative director for Unifocus and associate producer for ESPN. His Spanish-language film, Hasta Mañana, sold out three consecutive shows at Hartford’s Real Art Ways in 2016.
Now a highly successful recording artist, saxophonist Mike Casey earned a BM in Jazz studies from the University’s The Hartt School. The Mike Casey Trio’s debut album, released just one year ago, has exceeded 280,000 streams and the group’s release of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood has been streamed more than 150,000 times on the digital music service Spotify’s State of Jazz playlist. A native of Storrs, Conn., Casey says his recordings are intentionally performed live. “All the humanity is in the imperfections, and to me, that’s perfection,” he says. You can also hear his music on the Peet’s Coffee Pandora station and on Jay-Z’s music streaming platform TIDAL.
Read more about Joey, Pedro, and Mike, and about all the 2018 honorees here.