Terri Lyne Carrington receives honorary degree from York University

Acclaimed drummer, composer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington has been awarded an honorary degree by York University.

The three-time Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master has previously received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, where she serves as a professor and as the founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. She’s also the artistic director of Next Jazz Legacy, a new program that aims to provide opportunity for women and nonbinary jazz musicians.

York University welcomed Carrington back to Toronto on Tuesday, June 14, to present her with an honorary doctor of letters during a convocation ceremony.

“I am so happy and sometimes still a little shocked that people value creative artists enough to honour a jazz musician in this way, and it gives me hope,” Carrington said at the ceremony.

Already a highly accomplished musician, Carrington has spent much of her career focusing on pushing for gender and racial equity in jazz and beyond.

“I should have more women peers, and I should not be the exception, and if I am not part of the solution, then I am part of the problem, and this was a watershed moment for me,” she said. “Once I realized that a life of work contributing to the benefit of humanity to something bigger than my own personal joy to be purposeful with my actions, to have a mission attached to it was not only noble but actually necessary for me to truly be happy — once I realized all of this, the stars aligned for me even more.”

Carrington was nominated by Lorna Marsden, the former president and vice-chancellor of both York University and Wilfrid Laurier University, and a former member of the Senate of Canada. Carrington’s nomination was additionally supported by trombonist Ron Westray and drummer Sarah Thawer.

“Terri Lyne Carrington is a professor and internationally respected drummer in jazz. She has had a meteoric career at an international level. She is an inspiration to our own students and alumni, and our jazz program and human rights,” the nomination statement read.

“Furthermore, by founding and directing the Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice she has taken on a music world in which women have been confined to voice and piano for far too long. Music is an international performance field and her remarkable leadership is model of talent and concern for social and gender justice. Her work echoes York’s important values of justice, inclusiveness, human rights, and dedication to high performance.”


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Carrington is also the founder and artistic director of the Carr Center in Detroit, and she serves on the board of trustees for The Recording Academy, on the board of directors for the International Society for Jazz Arrangers and Composers and on the advisory board for The History Makers and New Music USA.

Carrington was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2021.

Her latest album Waiting Game, with her band Social Science, was nominated for a Grammy Award last year.