Kris Davis and Danilo Pérez Receive Doris Duke Artist Awards

Of this year's seven Doris Duke Artists, two are current Berklee faculty members and one is an honorary doctorate recipient.

October 21, 2021

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced the names of this year's Doris Duke Artists, an honor that comes with an award of $275,000 that is both investment in and celebration of the artists’ ongoing contributions to the fields of dance, jazz, and theater. Of the seven artists presented with awards, two are current Berklee faculty and one is an honorary doctorate recipient.

Kris Davis, associate program director of creative development for the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, and Danilo Pérez ’88, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, were announced as recipients in the jazz category alongside Wayne Shorter, who received an honorary doctorate from the college in 1999. Grammy-winning drummer, producer, and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Terri Lyne Carrington was named a Doris Duke Artist in 2019.  

Kris Davis

Davis was voted pianist of the year in the DownBeat and JazzTimes critics' polls (in 2020 and 2019, respectively) and recognized as Composer of the Year and Pianist of the Year in 2020 by the Jazz Journalists Association. To date, she has released 12 recordings as a leader. Her newest release, Diatom Ribbons, was named the top jazz album of 2019 by the New York Times and NPR, among others. Davis works as a collaborator and side person with Carrington, John Zorn, Craig Taborn, Tyshawn Sorey, Eric Revis, and others. She received a Doris Duke Impact Award in 2015 and multiple commissions to compose new works from the Shifting Foundation, the Jazz Gallery/Jerome Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition to her role at Berklee, she runs her own music label, Pyroclastic Records.

“Being named a Doris Duke Artist is meaningful to me because it provides external validation from my peers, a moment to reflect on the journey, and encouragement to keep going, searching, and growing,” said Davis. “I am especially humbled to receive the award at this critical moment in history, in which musicians continue to be deeply affected by the pandemic. I am motivated more than ever to be a leader in revitalizing our community by providing opportunities for artists through my label, Pyroclastic Records, and as an educator and mentor at the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.”

Danilo Pérez

A three-time Grammy-winning pianist, composer, producer, and educator, Pérez is also a social activist, humanitarian, and leading proponent of global jazz. His music is a blend of Panamanian roots with elements of Latin American folk music, jazz, European impressionism, and African and other musical heritages that promote music as a multidimensional bridge between people. Pérez has worked as a music educator in the U.S. and around the world for more than 20 years. He serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, a cultural ambassador for Panama, and as founder and artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival. In previous years, he has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. As a bandleader, he has earned six Grammy nominations for his innovative recordings. As a composer, he has been awarded commissions from the 2 Agosto competition in Italy, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Banff Centre, and the Chicago and Detroit jazz festivals. He has collaborated with Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Haynes, Cassandra Wilson, and others.

“The heartbeat of my artistic work is social, humanitarian activism and education, practiced with creativity, collective freedom, and a quest for wisdom,” said Pérez. “This award feels like a reminder to continue the mission of advancing the power of music to resist as well as to rebuild and reimagine a new world.”

About the Doris Duke Award

The Doris Duke Artist Award is the largest national prize for individuals in the performing arts, consisting of $250,000 in unrestricted funding and an additional $25,000 dedicated to encouraging savings for retirement. Rather than being tied to specific projects, the awards are available to recipients to use in the manner they determine will best support their ability to create and thrive. Since the program began in 2012, the Doris Duke Artist Awards program has awarded more than $35.4 million in funding to 129 artists. 

“Art is the antidote to crisis. These exemplary artists demonstrate that a time of unprecedented disruption in the arts and across society cannot stifle the power of great art to persevere,” said Sam Gill, president and CEO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “We are proud to support these outstanding creators and accelerate their phenomenal contributions to society.”

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