Wynton Marsalis (’81, trumpet), a New Orleans native, is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator, and leading advocate of American culture. He is the first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum, from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. In 1982 he made his recording debut as a leader, and he has since recorded more than 70 jazz and classical recordings. He has been awarded nine Grammy® Awards and sold over seven million copies worldwide. In 1983, he became the first artist to win both classical and jazz Grammy® in the same year, repeating the distinction the following year. In 1997, he became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio Blood on the Fields.
Mr. Marsalis’s creativity has been celebrated the world over. In 2001, he was appointed Messenger of Peace by Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and in 2005, he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States government. Britain’s senior conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music, granted him Honorary Membership, the Academy’s highest decoration for a non-British citizen. In the fall of 2009, the French Ministry of Culture honored Marsalis with France’s highest distinction, the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Mr. Marsalis has written six books including: Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life (Random House, 2008), with Geoffrey C. Ward; and Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (Candlewick, 2012), illustrated by Paul Rogers. He helped lead the effort to construct Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home— Frederick P. Rose Hall—the first education, performance, and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, which opened its doors in October 2004. He continues to serve as the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2012, Mr. Marsalis was named cultural correspondent for CBS News; in July 2014 he returned to Juilliard as its director of Jazz Studies.