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Fresh off Grammy win, Hancock to be feted by Harvard

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Grammy-winning jazz musician Herbie Hancock has been named the 2008 Artist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation of Harvard University, the foundation announced Tuesday.

Hancock, the unanimous choice of the selection committee, will be awarded the foundation’s most prestigious medal, which bears the signature of the university’s president, at Harvard’s annual Cultural Rhythms ceremony on Saturday, March 1.

“The students and faculty of Harvard are delighted to present the 2008 Artist of the Year award to the legendary jazz pianist and Grammy award winner Herbie Hancock,” said Dr. S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation, in a statement announcing the award. “He is a masterful artist, a brilliant composer of modern jazz who has shared his musical gift with humanity in ways that inspire and unify.”

Hancock has had an impressive career in modern jazz. Known for a creative style incorporating genres ranging from RandB to electronic music, Hancock has performed throughout the world, earning 12 Grammy Awards for his creative artistry. His most recent album, “River: The Joni Letters,” garnered the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, marking the first time a jazz album has won the award since 1964.

In addition, Hancock’s humanitarian contributions being recognized by Harvard include special initiatives on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, AIDS Walk Africa, and the Rhythm of Life Organization.

The award will be presented to Hancock during the Harvard Cultural Festival. The program begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre.

Previous recipients of Harvard Foundation artist/humanitarian awards include James Earl Jones, Will Smith, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington.