Wynton Marsalis has been described as the most outstanding jazz musician and trumpeter of his generation, as one of the world's top classical trumpeters, as a big band leader in the tradition of Duke Ellington, a brilliant composer, a devoted advocate for the Arts and a tireless and inspiring educator.
In 1987 Wynton Marsalis co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center. Under Wynton Marsalis' leadership the program has developed an international agenda with up to 400 events annually in 15 countries. In December of 1995 the Lincoln Center Board awarded the Jazz Department's significant success by voting it a full constituent, equal in stature with the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet - a historic moment for Jazz as an art form and for Lincoln Center as a cultural institution. In February 1998 New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani announced that Jazz at Lincoln Center was selected to be part of the redevelopment of the New York Coliseum site at Columbus Circle. Frederick P. Rose Hall, the new 100,000 square foot complex (opened in October 2004), has become Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home.
In 1997 Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio Blood on the Fields. He has won nine of the coveted Grammy Awards, earned the distinction of being the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records (an accomplishment he astonishingly repeated in consecutive years), and he is the only artist ever to have won Grammy Awards in five consecutive years. Wynton Marsalis' radio and television series were awarded the most prestigious distinction in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody Award.
Wynton Marsalis was awarded the Grand Prix Du Disque of France, the Louis Armstrong Memorial Medal, the Netherlands' Edison Award and the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts. He received countless plaques and was given the Key to over 50 cities. He was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement and was dubbed an Honorary Dreamer by the "I Have a Dream Foundation." Wynton Marsalis received a citation from the United States House of Representatives for his outstanding contributions to the Arts. TIME magazine selected Wynton Marsalis as one of America's most promising leaders under age 40 in 1995, and in 1996 TIME celebrated Marsalis as one of America's 25 Most Influential People. In the spring of 2001 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan proclaimed Wynton Marsalis an international ambassador of goodwill by appointing him a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Honorary degrees have been conferred upon Wynton Marsalis by twenty-nine of our nation's leading academic institutions including Columbia, Brown, Princeton and Yale University. Britain's senior conservatoire, the Royal Academy of Music, granted Mr. Marsalis Honorary Membership, the Academy's highest decoration for a non-British citizen. In France the Ministry of Culture appointed Wynton Marsalis the most prestigious decoration awarded by the French Republic - the rank of Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature.