BOSTON, MA, April 20, 2005 – Grammy-winning R&B vocalist Anita Baker, legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter, and Kevin Eubanks, music director of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show Band, will receive Honorary Doctor of Music degrees at Berklee College of Music’s Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m. at Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena. Commencement speaker Ron Carter will address approximately 700 graduates and their invited guests at the 5,000-seat venue.
This year’s Honorary Doctorate recipients - Baker, Carter, and Eubanks - are being honored for their achievements in the world of music, and for their enduring contributions to American culture. Past recipients include Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Patti LaBelle, Steven Tyler, Tito Puente, Nancy Wilson, David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Ahmet Ertegun.
On commencement eve, as is Berklee’s tradition, students will pay tribute by performing music associated with Baker, Carter, and Eubanks, at Matthews Arena. The Commencement Concert and Ceremony are not open to the public.
Eight-time Grammy winner Anita Baker began her musical journey singing in a gospel choir in her native Detroit. She was soon performing with local bands, including the popular act Chapter 8. In 1983 a startup label released Baker’s solo debut, The Songstress, which prompted her signing with Elektra Records. Baker’s Elektra debut, Rapture, netted the singer two 1986 Grammy Awards. Her career was at full throttle by 1988 when she released her chart-topping album Giving You the Best that I Got. She won three more Grammy Awards for the title track, shoring up her position as America’s top female soul vocalist. Baker’s 1990 release Compositions broke new ground for her, in that she wrote or co-wrote seven of the tracks, and earned her another Grammy Award. Her next CD, Rhythm of Love, featured another side of Baker’s artistry with renditions of classic tunes like “Body and Soul,” and “My Funny Valentine.” Baker made a comeback last year with her first disc for the Blue Note label. My Everything showcases Baker as writer, performer, and producer.
For five decades, two-time Grammy Award winner Ron Carter has been recognized as one of the most original, prolific, and influential bassists in music. He has played on more than 2,500 albums with an array of music giants including Coleman Hawkins, James Brown, Lena Horne, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, B.B. King, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, and A Tribe Called Quest, to name a few. From 1963 to 1968, Carter was a member of the legendary Miles Davis Quintet that included Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. Over the course of his long career, he has released more than a dozen albums as a leader and has received many accolades. Carter has given back to young musicians through numerous clinics, lectures, and master classes at colleges, and has shared his expertise in music books. He was artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies and was recently named Distinguished Professor Emeritus at City College of New York, after 18 years in the faculty of the Music Department.
Guitarist Kevin Eubanks is known to millions as the music director of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show Band. Eubanks is a gifted jazz guitar stylist and a prolific composer who has led his own jazz quartet for nearly 20 years and released a dozen albums, including several on the Blue Note label. A native of Philadelphia, Eubanks enrolled at Berklee in 1976. Subsequent to leaving the college, he moved to New York and played with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton, Sam Rivers, fellow honoree Ron Carter, and others before launching his own group. Eubanks joined the Tonight Show Band in 1992 at the invitation of then music director Branford Marsalis. Three years later, he was directing the band and had penned the show’s closing theme. He performs regularly with the Kevin Eubanks Group and composes music for TV movies and feature films. Eubanks is also active in charity work, devoting his energy to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and other organizations.
About Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over half a century, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing 70 plus countries, and a music industry “who’s who” of alumni, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today – and tomorrow.