Terri Lyne Carrington Receives NEA Jazz Masters Award

The acclaimed founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice was recognized with the jazz genre's highest honor.

October 21, 2020

Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, has received the nation’s highest honor in jazz—the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Award. Carrington will be recognized alongside fellow honorees Albert “Tootie” Heath, Henry Threadgill, and Phil Schaap in a virtual tribute concert to be broadcast on April 22, 2021, presented by the NEA and SFJAZZ. Carrington is the second professor to receive the award while teaching at the college, following in the footsteps of piano professor Joanne Brackeen, a 2017 honoree.

I’m so proud to join the distinctive list of jazz masters, many of whom are mentors of mine.

—Terri Lyne Carrington

An acclaimed musician, producer, educator, composer, bandleader, and artist, Carrington has recorded and toured with some the most iconic jazz musicians in history, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, Diana Krall, and Cassandra Wilson, among countless others. She made history as the first woman to win a Grammy Award in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, a reimagining of the Duke Ellington classic. Her collaborations with Esperanza Spalding B.M. '05 and Geri Allen, as well as her female-driven Mosaic Project recordings, have been met with critical acclaim. In 2018, Carrington founded the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, for which she currently serves as artistic director. The Institute aims to recruit, teach, mentor, and advocate for musicians seeking to study jazz, with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles. She was the recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2019, and topped the DownBeat Critics’ Poll this year for her groundbreaking album Waiting Game with Social Science. Carrington also currently serves as the artistic director of the Carr Center in Detroit.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Carrington. “I’m so proud to join the distinctive list of jazz masters, many of whom are mentors of mine. Apprenticeship is so powerful in this music, which is why I have focused my efforts in the area of jazz activism. The only reason I’m receiving this award is because of the people in my life that believed in the potential and fostered the talent of a little girl that wanted to play drums, and I honor them as well.”

Watch Carrington perform a cover of Esperanza Spalding's "If That's True" with members of the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice:

About the NEA Jazz Masters Award

NEA Jazz Masters are honored for their lifetime of achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Each receives a $25,000 award and a virtual tribute concert. Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 161 fellowships to great figures in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, and Chick Corea. The Arts Endowment’s website features resources and content about the NEA Jazz Masters, including archived concerts, video tributes, podcasts, and more than 350 NEA Jazz Moments audio clips. The organization has also supported the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, an effort to document the lives and careers of nearly 100 NEA Jazz Masters.

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