Berklee Legacy Award

Berklee's Plan for Social Justice includes recognition of artistic achievement by Black artists who received a Berklee honorary doctorate and/or devoted time, wisdom, and mentorship to members of the Berklee community. To this end, we are creating the Berklee Legacy Award.  

To acknowledge extraordinary achievement, the Berklee Legacy Award committee will initiate a program to recognize an exemplary group of Black artists by naming space on Berklee’s campus and celebrating their artistry. These are the criteria for nominating recipients for the Legacy Award: 

  1. Artistic Excellence: Candidates will have achieved the highest level of artistry and creativity, inspiring the world through performance, production, technology, business, education, and other areas. 
  2. Recognition by Berklee: Berklee will have recognized their extraordinary accomplishments by bestowing an honorary degree or similar acknowledgment of achievement.
  3. Contribution of Time and Talent: Candidates will have devoted time and attention to the Berklee community, particularly to students. 
  4. Shared Values: Candidates will personify Berklee's fundamental values.

Berklee Legacy Awards

The Berklee Legacy Awards launched in 2021 when four spaces on the Boston campus were named after the first honorees: Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Joseph Douglass, and Carmen de Lavallade. An inaugural online ceremony was held in their honor.

On February 24, 2022, the celebration continued with a tribute concert at the Berklee Performance Center featuring award-winning vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. Berklee faculty member and Grammy-nominated artist Tia Fuller directed a big band to celebrate Duke Ellington. George Russell Jr., chair of the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department, led an ensemble to recognize Sarah Vaughan’s artistry. From Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Dr. Johnathan Bailey Holland, chair of composition, contemporary music, and core studies, paid homage to the turn-of-the-20th-century violinist Joseph Douglass. And Dr. Mila Thigpen, chair of the Dance Division, choreographed a tribute to the riveting Carmen de Lavallade.

Read more about the Berklee Legacy Award Concert.

Learn more about Berklee's Black History Celebration programming.


The award committee welcomes nominations from the Berklee community for the awards. Submissions can be made to Sean Skeete at

Berklee Legacy Award Committee (2021 - 2022) 

Sean Skeete, Chair, Ensemble Department; chair
Prince Charles Alexander, Professor, Music Production & Engineering
Maureen Hickey, Vice President of Real Estate
Mila Thigpen, Chair, Dance, Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Jackson Grove, student
Evan Menifee, student

Legacy Award Space Activation Committee (2022 - 2023)

Melissa Howe, Assistant to the President/Board Liaison; co-chair
Sean Skeete, Chair, Ensemble Department; co-chair
Emmett Price III, Dean, Africana Studies 
George W. Russell Jr., Chair, Harmony and Jazz Composition Department
Michael Shinn, Dean, Music Division, Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Aja Burrell Wood, Managing Director, Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice