It’s that time of year again when some of the best entertainers, artists and songwriters in music history are awarded the coveted Kennedy Center honor.
This year, pianist extraordinaire Herbie Hancock is one of them.
Hancock worked a lot with Miles Davis in the 60’s and 70’s, having joined The Miles Davis Quintet in 1963. But it was his work in the 80’s that made him a household name. The computerized sound of his song “Rockit” (and oh, that video!) brought technology and innovation to R&B music in a way that perhaps no other artist of that time had done. He was one of the first artists to popularize the sound.
Counted as the first mainstream song to feature “scratching”, “Rockit” served as a soundtrack for the hip-hop genre’s breakdancers. The video, which is animated and features robots, won five MTV Music Video awards.
Throughout the 90’s and up to today, Hancock has continued to make albums and discover new sounds. His is a career that spans the gamut of music genres. In 1969, he composed the funky soundtrack for Bill Cosby’s animated television show, Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids. Fast forward to 2000 and beyond, he has worked with folk singer Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke, Chick Corea and Quincy Jones.
The 73-year old classical composer and jazz musician started playing piano at the age of 7. He was a student of classical music first, and later discovered jazz while in high school.
The recipient of 14 Grammy awards and an Oscar, Hancock currently teaches jazz at UCLA.
Other recipients of this year’s Honors include musician Carlos Santana, known for fusing rock and Latin music, and singer-songwriter Billy Joel.
The 2013 Kennedy Center Honors will air on December 29.
Read more at The Washington Post.