Terri Lyne Carrington recipient of Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award

Terri Lyne Carrington

Photo by Michael Goldman

3 min read

Drummer, composer, producer, educator, and activist Terri Lyne Carrington was honored with the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Department of Music. 

Carrington, the founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, has educated both Berklee and Harvard students by way of the Harvard-Berklee Joint Studies Program.  

She is an NEA Jazz Master, Doris Duke Artist, and three-time Grammy Award-winning drummer, has performed on more than 100 recordings over her 40-year career and has toured and recorded with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Esperanza Spalding, and numerous others. 

“I’ll never forget the first time I heard Terri Lyne Carrington live,” said Vijay Iyer, Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts, addressing the audience at the Paine Hall award ceremony on Monday. “I was electrified by the wide spectrum in her sound and her feel, the deep earthy kicks, the metallic splashes, the athletic drive, the playful dance, the swagger, the lilt.” 

The award, which goes to a nationally recognized educator, was established in honor of the late Vosgerchian, who was the Naumberg Professor of Music Emerita in the Department of Music until her retirement in 1990. Award recipients demonstrate qualities that include selfless commitment, ability to motivate in a positive and creative way and an interest in the development of the whole person. 

In a conversation with musician and playwright Somi Kakoma, who is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Music, Carrington described feeling fulfillment from both performing onstage and working one-on-one with students. In drum lessons, she often encourages students to teach her something too, to establish rapport and mutual respect. 

“It’s really when you see the light bulbs going off,” Carrington said. “You’re passionate about something and then you meet somebody young that’s just discovering the things that you’re passionate about. There’s really no better feeling than to be able to help, maybe inspire, [and] push them along on this journey.” 

The award ceremony included a musical performance from Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice students Veronica Leahy ’23, a recent Harvard grad, and Berklee students Jillian Upshaw, Chris Lee, Fall Raye, and Roella OloroThrough the institute, Carrington aims to provide opportunities to women and nonbinary musicians, and change the way jazz is perceived and presented. 

“The idea was to set new standards in order to shift the narrative that we have been seeing for so many years that men play jazz and women sing it,” Carrington said. “For me it’s about transforming the culture, one person at a time or one group at a time … so that we can imagine jazz without patriarchy.”