Wayne Shorter to receive 2018 Kennedy Center Honors

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Wayne Shorter, a professor of music in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, will receive the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements at the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala on Dec. 2.

Shorter’s fellow honorees include composer and pianist Philip Glass, country music entertainer Reba McEntire, and actress Cher. The co-creators of the musical “Hamilton,” including Lin-Manuel Miranda, will also receive Kennedy Center Honors for their trailblazing and transformative work at this annual national celebration of the arts.

A legendary saxophonist, educator and composer, Shorter joined UCLA in 2012. He serves on the faculty of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, which offers a tuition-free, two-year master’s degree program in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where Shorter is also a trustee.

“Being included into the prestigious ranks of Kennedy Center honorees will forever remain one of the great moments in my life,” Shorter said in a statement to the Kennedy Center. “Guided by compassion and wisdom, I strive to create value for others and all life on this planet — not only through my art — but by igniting the glow of light that elevates the human condition to its noblest form.”

Considered one of the greatest jazz artists of all time, Shorter got his start in 1959 when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger, launching a 60-year career that shows no signs of slowing. After four years, he joined Miles Davis’s second quintet, a group that included Herbie Hancock, who is also on the UCLA music faculty. He went on to form the worlds’ first fusion band, Weather Report, and today he performs as a member of The Wayne Shorter Quartet. His more recent collaborators have included Carlos Santana, Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, among others.

Shorter has earned 11 Grammy awards — including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 — and he is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award (1998) and the prestigious Polar Music Prize (2017). He is currently working on his first opera, in collaboration with bassist Esperanza Spalding.

The honors gala will be recorded for broadcast on CBS and will air at 5 p.m. PST on Dec. 26.

Originally written for UCLA Newsroom.