Herbie Hancock playing the piano

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Commencement 2022

Jazz pianist, composer Herbie Hancock to speak at Peabody Commencement ceremony

Hancock will also receive the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America at the ceremony

Herbie Hancock—celebrated jazz and crossover artist, 14-time Grammy-winner, and advocate for using culture and the arts to advance peace—will receive the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America and address graduates during the Peabody Conservatory's 2022 Graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 25. The George Peabody Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the Peabody Institute and has been presented annually since 1980.

A black and white photo of Herbie Hancock during the recording session for 'Inventions and Dimensions,' August 30, 1963

Image caption: Herbie Hancock during the recording session for "Inventions and Dimensions," August 30, 1963

Image credit: Photograph by Francis Wolff/herbiehancock.com

"It is a true honor to present this award to Herbie Hancock, a genuine icon of contemporary American music," noted Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein. "His prolific artistic output as solo performer, recording artist, and bandleader is remarkable, and its impact is magnified by his lifelong commitment to fostering connection among communities and understanding across cultures with his art."

In his sixth decade of musical innovations, Herbie Hancock remains at the forefront of world culture, technology, business, and music. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, he helped pioneer a groundbreaking sound in jazz, followed in the 1970s with albums including Headhunters, which combined electric jazz with funk and rock, and later exploring acoustics with V.S.O.P. and electronic dance sounds with his bestselling album Future Shock. Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and has garnered 14 Grammys, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters. He is Institute Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, and the Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Hancock is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Kennedy Center Honoree. His memoirs, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, were published in 2014.

Previous George Peabody Medal winners have included Renée Fleming, Tori Amos, Leon Fleisher, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Roy Haynes, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Marilyn Horne, André Watts, and Ella Fitzgerald.

This year marks the Peabody Conservatory's 140th Graduation exercises, at which 91 Bachelor of Music degrees, 10 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, 108 Master of Music degrees, six Master of Arts degrees, 15 Graduate Performance Diplomas, and 15 Doctor of Musical Arts degrees are scheduled to be conferred.

The undergraduate ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, and a second ceremony for graduate degrees follows at 2 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall on the Peabody Institute's Baltimore campus and will be livestreamed. Additional details are available at peabody.jhu.edu/graduation.