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Jazz Legends Charles Lloyd, Wayne Shorter, and esperanza spalding Receive Honorary Degrees from CalArts

Valencia, Calif. (May 11, 2022) — California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will award honorary degrees to legendary jazz musicians and world-renowned artists Charles LloydWayne Shorter, and esperanza spalding at the Institute’s May 13 commencement ceremony, it was announced today.

Marking the first in-person graduation since 2019, the festive event will confer degrees for more than 330 undergraduate and graduate students across the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater.

“We are thrilled to be able to gather together once again and celebrate this exciting moment in the lives of CalArtians,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. “As another remarkable and future-defining set of graduates sets out into the world, we’re also pleased to bring some of the world’s most influential and experimental artists into our community, to honor and learn from their achievements.”

At its recent year-end meeting, the CalArts Board of Trustees approved three honorary doctorates: one each for jazz musician and Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductee Charles Lloyd; jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter; and bassist, vocalist and composer esperanza spalding. Though Lloyd, Shorter, and spalding will not be able to join the ceremonies in-person due to health and pandemic-related complications they will each make campus visits to work with students during the coming academic year.

Honored by CalArts for his lifelong impact as a world music trailblazer, Charles Lloyd’s ceaseless exploration and experimentation has illuminated and uplifted generations in profound and unparalleled ways. His singular practice has engaged the public in diverse and innovative ways, including performances at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Herodion Theater at the Acropolis, and the Montreux Jazz Festival. He has received the NEA Jazz Masters Award and the Alfa Jazz Fest International Music Award, was honored as a Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Legend, and inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

As a musician and composer, jazz saxophonist, and pioneer of jazz-rock fusion, Wayne Shorter has recorded over 20 albums and won 11 Grammy Awards. Shorter is widely recognized as a trailblazing creator of new musical forms and his drive for lifelong innovation and commitment to experimentation and exploration has changed art—and society—in permanent ways. Shorter’s vast accomplishments include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Polar Music Prize, and a Kennedy Center Honors Award.

And rounding out the stellar trio is esperanza spalding, a groundbreaking artist, educator and force for justice. A native of Portland, Oregon, she first performed as a violinist in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at the age of five. Hailed as a prodigy on the acoustic double bass, spalding is the first jazz musician to win the Grammy for Best New Artist. As a jazz bassist, singer, songwriter, and composer, she has won five Grammys, a Boston Music Award, and a Soul Train Music Award. Her deep commitment to artists is exemplified in the time she spends teaching and her recent work to build a sanctuary for artists on nearly an acre of land in Portland's St. Johns neighborhood.

Commencement festivities will include performances by the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Ensemble, Balinese Dance, African Music and Dance Ensemble, and CalArts Salsa Band, as well as a graduation concert performance by DJ Biiirth (MFA, Music). The ceremony will include remarks from Rajan, Trustee Emeritus Tim Disney, student, faculty, and staff leaders, as well as an invocation from Tatavium Elder Dennis Garcia (Fernandeño Tatavium/Chumash).

CalArts Graduation 2022 will be held in the Graduation Courtyard of the CalArts campus on Friday, May 13, at 6 pm PT. Commencement will also be live streamed through the CalArts website beginning at 5 pm PT.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.