Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown will present Philip Bailey and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; Steve Winwood; composer and Berklee alumnus Howard Shore; and Brazilian artist Rosa Passos with honorary doctor of music degrees at Berklee College of Music’s Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 10:00 a.m., at the Agganis Arena at Boston University. Commencement speaker Philip Bailey 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 (the first, in 1971), 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.
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 an amazing 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 – dubbed «The Illuminate Love Tour» – supported an awareness campaign for The Philip Bailey 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 supergroup 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 ’70s saw the birth of Maurice’s vision: a band that combined spirituality and stunning performances; a band that mixed 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 have received numerous accolades, including six Grammy Awards; four American Music Awards; over 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 f