Branford Marsalis to Accept Honorary Degree at Berklee

Three-time Grammy-Award-winning saxophonist and Berklee alumnus Branford Marsalis '80 will receive an honorary doctor of music degree for his outstanding contributions to music and culture at the Berklee College of Music 2006 Entering Student Convocation, Friday, September 8, at the Berklee Performance Center.

Marsalis, Berklee President Roger Brown, and Vice President for Student Affairs Lawrence E. Bethune, will welcome the Berklee entering class of 2010, with approximately 766 students from 42 countries. In accepting his honorary doctorate, Marsalis will address the class. Returning Berklee students will pay tribute to Marsalis with a concert featuring music associated with his career. This will come just four days before Marsalis' new recording, Braggtown, will be released on the Marsalis Music imprint September 12.

"Branford Marsalis is a powerful, original voice in music. It's important for our current students to note that while he plays with great passion and skill, and is always exciting to hear, he's never been content or satisfied, and is always trying to grow, " said Berklee President Roger Brown. "He has excelled as a composer, performer, session musician, and educator; when people ask me the names of some of our most accomplished alumni, his name is invariably one of the first five to come up.We are honored to count him among the alumni of Berklee, and we're thrilled to present an Honorary Doctorate to him."

A New Orleans native, Marsalis is the oldest of the six sons of jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis and his wife Dolores. He toured in the early 1980s after his studies at Berklee, first with the Art Blakey Big Band and later with Clark Terry's group and Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Marsalis' high-visibility foray into pop music came in 1985 when he joined Sting's first post-Police band, producing a Grammy-winning live CD. Marsalis made appearances in such Hollywood movies as School Daze and Throw Mamma from the Train. In 1992, he became the host of Jazz Set, a weekly radio show on National Public Radio. The same year, he took the reins as the musical director for NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Marsalis won his first Grammy Award in 1992 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance for his blues-inspired album I Heard You Twice the First Time. Marsalis has won two additional Grammy Awards for his 1993 collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on the song "Barcelona Mona, " and for his quartet's Contemporary Jazz CD in 2000. In 2002, Marsalis founded his own record label, Marsalis Music, in conjunction with Rounder Records.

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