Iconic musician and vocalist Herbie Hancock is among the handful this year who will receive an honorary degree from Columbia College Chicago at the school’s May 18 and 19 commencement ceremonies. Columbia College will confer a total of eight people in the fields of entertainment, media and arts with the special honor. Hancock will be recognized at the May 19 graduation.
The college calls him a true icon of modern music. His career spans five decades and he has 14 Grammy Awards, including 2007 Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album for “River: The Joni Letters”. Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11.
He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.