What do Ray Charles, Julie Andrews, M.C. Hammer, Pete Townsend, Anthony Kiedis, Alanis Morissette, Brian Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald have in common?
All make up the diverse cast of the music industry’s biggest names selected by UCLA students to receive the Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement. That list will expand this year to include its first reggae honoree, Ziggy Marley.
Established in 1988 by the UCLA Student Alumni Association to honor George and Ira Gershwins' contributions to American music, the Gershwin Award will be presented to singer-songwriter Marley Friday, May 19, as a highlight of Spring Sing, UCLA’s popular annual showcase for the best student talent on campus hosted by the UCLA Alumni Association and Student Alumni Association.
“We wanted to acknowledge a genre of music that hasn’t been represented before among the Gershwin Award winners,” said Alyson Beckman of Marley’s selection. One of the event’s organizers, she is assistant director of Bruin traditions with the UCLA Alumni Association. “No reggae artist has ever won it.” The award is intended to honor the creators of all musical genres, she said.
“He brings a different perspective that’s optimistic, positive and different from the rock-and-roll artists who have a history of winning this award in the past,” Beckman said of Marley.
With eight Grammy Awards and an Emmy on his résumé, Marley has managed to transform the music industry with his progressive agenda during his three-decade career and built on the rich musical legacy of his father, reggae icon Bob Marley.