Harvard Appoints Herbie Hancock Professor of Poetry

The jazz legend, 73, will deliver six lectures on a variety of topics ranging from Buddhism to the wisdom of Miles Davis

Herbie Hancock
Bret Hartman/For The Washington Post
January 10, 2014 5:35 PM ET

Harvard University has appointed Herbie Hancock the 2014 Norton Professor of Poetry. As part of the honor, the jazz legend will deliver six lectures on a variety of topics next month, though he told BBC Radio 5 – as reported by The BBC – those talks will mostly cover personal stories and his own history.

Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters and the 40 Greatest Stoner Albums

He said one would be titled "The Wisdom of Miles Davis," with whom Hancock played in Sixties. Another would be about Buddhism and creativity, as Hancock has practiced Buddhism for the last four decades.

Over the years, luminaries like Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot and Leonard Bernstein have held the honorary professorship, which the school introduced in 1925. Hancock told the BBC that following in Bernstein's footsteps was "pretty daunting."

"The reason that I was chosen for this position was only partially because of music," Hancock told Radio 5. "They also realized that I'm a goodwill ambassador to [the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture], which is partly to do with cultural diplomacy which I'm addressing in one of my lectures."

Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and More of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Hancock also told the BBC his personal muse was "life itself."

Hancock, who is 73, recently received the Kennedy Center Honors Award. At the ceremony, Snoop Dogg performed the rap to Us3's "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" – a track that sampled Hancock's 1964 track "Cantaloupe Island" – and praised the jazz musician by saying Hancock had "invented hip-hop."

Over the course of his career – in which Hancock has played avariety of musical styles with artists like Davis, Wes Montgomery, Joni Mitchell and Carlos Santana – he has won 15 Grammys and, in 1986, a Best Original Score Oscar for his Round Midnight soundtrack.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

More Song Stories entries »