Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music on April 5. The industry veteran, who has worked at the Sony Music label since 2012, will receive the honor at a ceremony at Berklee Performance Center.
“To be named as a recipient of the honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music is a defining milestone of my career,” said Rhone. “Berklee’s dedication in preparing young people for its contemporary music disciplines and real-world music business realities is second to none. Their enduring contribution to musical scholarship and culture at the highest levels of artistic and educational achievement is reflected in the transformative legacy of their students, faculty, alumni, and distinguished past honorees, in whose company I’m honored to be among.”
The honorary degree, which in the past has been given to figures such as Aretha Franklin and David Bowie, will recognize Rhone’s profound impact on the music industry. Rhone began her career at Buddha Records in 1974 and went on to rise through the ranks at ABC Records, Ariola Records, Elektra and most notably, Atlantic Records, which under her leadership became the first major record label to invest in hip-hop. It’s at Atlantic where Rhone also became the first African-American woman to hold the rank of chief executive at a major record company.
“Ms. Rhone was chosen for her groundbreaking position as one of very few women to achieve her status as a label head, multiple times, and her influence on the music industry through her leadership,” said Carl Beatty, Berklee’s assistant vice president of Artists and Music Industry Relations.
Epic Records is home to DJ Khaled, Future, Travis Scott and Camila Cabello, among other hit acts. In her previous positions, Rhone played an instrumental role in the careers of such artists as Missy Elliot, Tracy Chapman, Jason Mraz, Brandy and En Vogue.
Rhone will also deliver a keynote address at Berklee’s annual Career Jam event, which will also feature a Sylvia Rhone Tribute Concert performed by student musicians.