Quincy Jones, a distinguished musician, composer, producer, arranger and conductor for more than six decades, will be the University of Washington commencement speaker June 14 in Husky Stadium.
Jones, who was raised in Seattle, also will receive an honorary doctorate from the UW. The awarding of this degree was approved today by the board of regents.
Jones was born March 14, 1933, in Chicago. At the age of ten he and his family relocated to Bremerton, Wash. When he was in junior high school he began studying trumpet. He sang in a gospel quartet at age 12. In Seattle, he attended Garfield High School, graduating in 1950. He later studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston until he had the opportunity to tour with Lionel Hampton's band as a trumpeter, arranger and sometimes pianist.
He moved to New York in 1951 and soon was arranging for major artists including Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Count Basie and Cannonball Adderley. He moved to Paris in 1957, where he continued to study music composition and theory, and record with both French and visiting American artists. Jones became vice president of Mercury Records in 1961, the first high-level black executive of a major record company. In 1963, he began writing film scores. His music for "The Pawnbroker" was the first of more than 35 major motion pictures that he would score.
Jones ventured into movie production in 1985, when he co-produced Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple." In 1990 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment, which developed programming for motion pictures, network, cable and syndicated productions. The company produced "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "In the House" and "MadTV," among other programs.
In 1991 Jones founded VIBE Magazine and, with his publishing group VIBE Ventures, would go on to acquire SPIN and Blaze Magazines before divesting his magazine interests.
In 1982, Jones produced Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the best selling album of all time with more than 50 million copies sold worldwide. In 1985, Jones used his influence to draw every major American recording artist of the day into a studio to record "We Are the World" to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia's famine. It became the best-selling single of all time.
In 1997, he formed the Quincy Jones Media Group. Film projects have included adaptations of Ralph Ellison's novel "Juneteenth," David Halberstam's "The Children," a biography of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and a documentary on Brazil's annual carnival festival.
Jones was the guiding force behind his own record company, Qwest Records, and also led a group that formed Qwest Broadcasting, a minority controlled broadcasting company that purchased television stations in Atlanta and New Orleans. Jones and his partners sold Qwest Broadcasting in 1999 for a reported $270 million.
Named by Time magazine as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th Century, Jones won his first Grammy in 1963 for his Count Basie arrangement of "I Can't Stop Loving You" and has received 27 Grammy awards. He is the all-time most nominated Grammy artist with 79 nominations and also has received the Grammy Living Legend Award. He won an Emmy for his score of the opening episode of the TV miniseries "Roots." He has received seven Oscar nominations and has received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
The government of France has awarded him its most distinguished title, the Legion d'Honneur; he also has received the French Ministry of Culture's Distinguished Arts and Letters Award. Jones was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2001 for his contributions to the cultural fabric of the United States.
In 2001, Jones added the title "best selling author" to his list of accomplishments when his autobiography "Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones" entered the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal best-sellers lists. Released by Doubleday Publishing, the critically acclaimed biography retells Jones' life story from his days as an impoverished youth on the Southside of Chicago through a massively impressive career in music, film and television where he worked beside legends such as Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson, among many others. In conjunction with the autobiography, Rhino Records released a 4-CD boxed set of Jones' music, spanning his more than five-decade career in the music business, entitled "Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones."
With a long history of humanitarian work Jones, through his Quincy Jones Foundation, continues to help raises awareness and financial resources for initiatives that support global children's issues in areas of conflict, malaria eradication, clean water and efforts to restore the Gulf Coast (post-Katrina).
Random person, but cool choice, I think.