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George Wein, the iconic producer of the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, was born on October 3rd, 1925, meaning he turns 93 years young today.
George Wein is considered to be as much a legend as his festivals. Through his company, Festival Productions, he has spearheaded hundreds of music events since 1954 when he produced the first Newport Jazz Festival® – an event which started the festival era. Five years later, Wein and folk icon Pete Seeger founded the Newport Folk Festival®. In 1970, Wein founded the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He pioneered the idea of sponsor association with music events, beginning with The Schlitz Salute to Jazz and the Kool Jazz Festival. His company went on to produce titled events for JVC, Mellon Bank, Verizon, Essence, Ben & Jerry’s and others.
As he slides into his 90’s, Wein has as much creative fuel as he did when he started the Newport festivals and advanced the concept of live music.
As a result of his diverse contributions to jazz and world culture, Wein has been honored by heads of state, educational institutions, and leading publications. Wein is an NEA Jazz Master (Jazz Advocate), and in 2012 was given the APAP Award of Merit for Achievement in Performing Arts. In addition, honors and awards have been bestowed upon him by Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, AARP, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the French Legion d’Honneur, Chile’s Order of Bernardo O’Higgins and other organizations around the world. Wein is the recipient of honorary degrees from the Berklee College of Music, Rhode Island College of Music, Five Towns College and North Carolina Central. Mr. Wein is a lifetime Honorary Trustee of Carnegie Hall and a member of the Board of Trustees at Jazz @ Lincoln Center.
In addition to his work as a producer, George Wein is an accomplished jazz pianist, whose group, Newport All-Stars has toured the United States, Europe, and Japan. Over the years, the Newport All-Stars has featured some of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz.
Mr. Wein’s autobiography, Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (Da Capo Press), which chronicles his life in jazz, was recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association as 2004’s best book about jazz. Mr. Wein also has a long history of involvement with philanthropy and the arts, including the establishment of the Joyce and George Wein Chair of African American Studies at Boston University, the Alexander Family Endowed Scholarship Fund at Simmons College and an annual artist prize given through the Studio Museum in Harlem in honor of his late wife, Joyce Alexander Wein.
If you know George, or simply appreciate his contributions to the music industry, stop by Facebook and Twitter and leave him a message at #GeorgeWein or https://www.facebook.com/georgeweinimpresario
Read the conversation and series we ran on George in January 2017.
- A Conversation with George Wein: Artistry – the Festivals (Part 1)
- A Conversation with George Wein: Madam Chaloff, a Bucket of Blood, and Storyville (Part 2)
- A Conversation with George Wein: Motivation (Part 3)
- A Conversation with George Wein: ‘I’ve lived my own life on my own terms’ (Part 4)
- A Conversation with George Wein: ‘You Have to Say You Did The Right Thing’ (Part 5)