Lalah Hathaway, James Newton Howard, and Chuck Rainey to Receive Honorary Doctorates at Berklee 2022 Commencement

The ceremony will be held in person for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, May 7.

April 5, 2022

Berklee College of Music will present honorary degrees to three of entertainment’s most esteemed artists at its 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at 10:00 a.m. ET at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Multiple Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lalah Hathaway ’90, acclaimed film and television composer, conductor, and record producer James Newton Howard, and legendary bassist Chuck Rainey will receive honorary Doctor of Music degrees, and each will have an opportunity to address the graduating class of 2022.

Commencement festivities will begin on the evening of Friday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. with a reception and concert at Agganis Arena. The concert will feature a global cast of over 200 student vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, arrangers, and track producers from the graduating class, who will perform a musical tribute to the work of each of the honorees.

This year’s honorary doctorate recipients will be recognized for cementing their place in American culture as innovators, creators, and community builders, and who continue to connect and inspire audiences everywhere. Past recipients from the college include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, B.B. King, Quincy Jones ’51, Esperanza Spalding B.M. ’05, Justin Timberlake, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and Gloria Estefan.

Lalah Hathaway

Since recording her debut album while still at Berklee, vocalist, songwriter, pianist, and activist Lalah Hathaway ’90 has left a distinct mark on the world of R&B, soul, gospel, pop, and jazz as one of the most prodigiously gifted and versatile live and recording artists of our time. The daughter of Donny Hathaway, her three-decade, seven-album career has produced hits such as "Forever, for Always, for Love," which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Adult R&B Airplay chart, and a collaboration album with Joe Sample, The Song Lives On, which reached number two on the jazz album chart. Hathaway is known for her pristine vocal timbre, pitch acuity, and phenomenal vocal range and vocabulary, and her mastery of polyphonic overtone singing helped earn her a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for "Something" with Snarky Puppy in 2014. Her creative ingenuity, expressive voice, and empowering, socially conscious writing has inspired a generation of music lovers and garnered five Grammys, including Best R&B Album for Lalah Hathaway Live and Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Angel” in 2017, and 10 Grammy nominations.

James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard is one of the most decorated composers in the history of entertainment, with his work appearing in more than 140 film and television projects. An Emmy and Grammy award winner and nine-time Oscar nominee, Howard has earned such prestigious honors as the Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the BMI Icon Award. Among his most notable movie scores are Pretty Woman, The Sixth Sense, Batman Begins, Disney’s Jungle Cruise, all four installments of The Hunger Games, and all three films in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. As a record producer, arranger, and songwriter, he has collaborated with musical icons Elton John; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Diana Ross; Barbra Streisand; Earth, Wind & Fire; and many more.

Chuck Rainey

Chuck Rainey

Born in Cleveland and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Chuck Rainey is widely regarded as one of the most prolific bass players in music, with his inimitable style appearing in countless recordings, television shows, and motion pictures. After serving in the military and studying at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, Rainey moved to New York City and soon became a studio and concert staple of major artists in the 1960s and 1970s, recording and touring with legends including Sam Cooke, Etta James, Donny Hathaway, Harry Belafonte, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, and Quincy Jones. His bass lines can be heard on theme songs of seminal sitcoms, such as Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, and his contributions to music education extend to textbooks, magazine columns, and higher education curricula. With 17 platinum or gold records, a Bass Player magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lane College Alumni Hall of Fame Award to his credit, Rainey stands out as one of entertainment’s most accomplished side musicians.

Learn more about Berklee's 2022 commencement concert and ceremony