Commencement 2008 - Berklee Honors Five Music Legends at 2008 Commencement

More than 800 student musicians will graduate as honorary doctorates go to Philip Bailey and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; Steve Winwood; composer Howard Shore; and Brazilian artist Rosa Passos.

April 8, 2008

 
  Philip Bailey
 
 
  Maurice White
 
   
  Steve Winwood
 
 
  Howard Shore
 
 
  Rosa Passos
  Photos provided by the artists

Berklee will present honorary doctor of music degrees to Philip Bailey and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; Steve Winwood; composer and Berklee alumnus Howard Shore; and Brazilian artist Rosa Passos with at the college's commencement on Saturday, May 10, at the Agganis Arena at Boston University. Bailey, the commencement speaker, will address more than 800 Berklee graduates and invited guests at the 7,000-seat venue.

This year's honorary doctorate recipients are being honored for their achievements in the world of music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Patti LaBelle, Steven Tyler, Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Nancy Wilson, David Bowie, Michel Camilo, Chaka Khan, Loretta Lynn, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Ahmet Ertegun.

Steve Winwood, a pioneer of rock who has influenced generations of musicians, will be performing a special concert of his career-spanning hits in the intimate space of the Berklee Performance Center on Thursday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m., in appreciation of receiving the honorary degree. The Berklee Performance Center is located at 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA. Tickets, on sale now at the BPC box office and ticketmaster.com, are $35, $50, and $70. Please call 617 747-2261 for more information.

On commencement eve, as is Berklee's tradition, students will pay tribute to the honorees by performing music associated with Bailey, White, Winwood, Shore, and Passos at the Agganis Arena. The commencement concert and ceremony are not open to the public.

Philip Bailey, a percussionist and singer with a four-octave vocal range, joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1971, and helped solidify the groundbreaking funk, soul, rock, jazz, and pop band's reputation as one of the most electrifying live and recorded acts in pop music. The group released many albums that reached platinum or multi-platinum status, including That's the Way of the World; Spirit; Raise!; and All 'n All. In addition to fronting the multi-Grammy Award–winning group, Bailey recorded three jazz albums and four gospel albums, including the Grammy Award–winner, Triumph. He also released four pop albums, including the 1984 release Chinese Wall, produced by Phil Collins and featuring their hit duet, "Easy Lover." Earth, Wind & Fire's 2006 concert tour supported an awareness campaign for Bailey's Music is Unity Foundation, an organization that invests in the education of young people who have been emancipated in the foster care system.

Maurice White, founder and creator of Earth, Wind & Fire, is a musician, songwriter, producer, and music label owner. Born in Memphis, White grew up in Chicago and trained at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory of Music. His first professional experience was as staff drummer at Chess Records where he kept the beat for such giants as Etta James, Willie Dixon, and Ramsey Lewis. The early 1970s saw the birth of Maurice's vision: a band that combined spirituality and stunning performances while mixing African rhythms with gospel, jazz, funk, and rock. White named his band Earth, Wind & Fire, and the rest is history. Classic hits include "Shining Star," "September," "Boogie Wonderland," "Fantasy," and many more. The band has received numerous accolades, including six Grammy Awards; four American Music Awards; more than 50 gold and platinum singles, albums, and DVDs; and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Earth, Wind & Fire also received Lifetime Achievement honors from the NAACP, ASCAP, and BET. White has produced such luminaries as Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Jennifer Holliday, Ramsey Lewis, Deniece Williams, and Grover Washington Jr.

Steve Winwood was a teenager when he gained fame as the singer of the Spencer Davis Group. The band scored hits with "Gimme Some Lovin,'" and "I'm a Man," and Winwood's singing drew comparisons to his idol Ray Charles. In 1967, he formed Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason, producing the album Mr. Fantasy. In 1969 Winwood and Eric Clapton formed Blind Faith with Ginger Baker and Rick Grech. The supergroup released one acclaimed album before Winwood re-formed Traffic to produce classics like John Barleycorn Must Die, and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Winwood launched his solo career in 1977 with a self-titled album. Arc of a Diver, Talking Back to the Night, Back in the High Life—which won two Grammy Awards—and Roll With It followed, producing hits like "While You See a Chance," "Valerie," and "Higher Love." Winwood has collaborated with musicians from around the globe, including Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, James Brown, Muddy Waters, Toots & the Maytals, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Tito Puente and the Fania All Stars, Japanese innovator Stomu Yamashta, and African percussionist Remi Kabaka. Winwood tours with Tom Petty this summer in support of his new album, Nine Lives.

Howard Shore is among today's most respected, honored, and active composers and music conductors. His work with Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings trilogy stands as his most towering achievement to date, earning him three Academy Awards, four Grammys, and three Golden Globes. After attending Berklee, Shore recorded and toured with the group Lighthouse and then, as one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live, he served as the music director on the show from 1975 to 1980. At the same time, he began collaborating with David Cronenberg, and has scored 12 of the director's films, including The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and Eastern Promises, for which he was recently honored with a Genie Award. Shore continues to distinguish himself with a wide range of projects, from Martin Scorsese's The Departed, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York, to Ed Wood, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and Mrs. Doubtfire.  His opera, The Fly, will have its world premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet on July 2, 2008, followed by its U.S. premiere at LA Opera in September.  Shore's music has been recognized with many prestigious awards, including the Recording Academy Honors, ASCAP's Henry Mancini Award, and the Frederick Loewe Award.

Rosa Passos is a Brazilian singer and songwriter known for keeping traditional Brazilian jazz alive with all of its mystery, rhythm, and romance intact. Fans all over the world know her to be loyal to her Afro-Brazilian culture, maintaining the soulful cool of bossa nova without commercial compromise. On stage and in her recordings, she sings in a sweet, warm voice that the Los Angeles Times describes as "sounding a bit like the legendary Elis Regina but with the rhythmic articulation of Ella Fitzgerald." Passos released her first recording in 1979, and her music has since become internationally recognized. Kenny Rankin and Karrin Allyson are among many who have recorded her songs. She worked with Ivan Lins and Chucho Valdez on a Cubadisco show in Havana, and collaborated with legendary bassist Ron Carter on the album Entre Amigos/Among Friends. Passos also sang and played guitar on Yo-Yo Ma's Grammy Award–winning Obrigado Brazil, leading to a world tour and a follow-up live recording. Her recent releases include Amorosa for the Sony Classical label, Rosa Por Rosa, and a self-titled 2006 album. Passos's new album, Romance, is set for release in May on the Telarc label.

For editorial information or digital photos, the media may contact:

Margot Edwards
Office of Public Information
617 747-2247
medwards@berklee.edu