Jazz Impresario George Wein is considered to be as much a legend as his festivals. Through his company, New Festival Productions, he has spearheaded hundreds of music events annually since 1954 when he produced the first Newport Jazz Festival - an event that started the "festival era," according to jazz critic Leonard Feather. At 85, Wein has as much creative fuel as he did when he started that festival and advanced the concept of live music. He pioneered the concept of sponsor association with music events. The Schlitz Salute to Jazz and the Kool Jazz Festival preceded any other sponsor identity with entertainment events, giving the sponsor the title presentation that guaranteed mention of the sponsor's name in publicity and promotion. His company went on to produce titled events for JVC, Mellon Bank, Verizon, Essence, Ben & Jerry's, CareFusion and others.
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. In January, 2005, he was recognized with a Jazz Masters award as Jazz Advocate by the National Endowment for the Arts; in 2010, he was honored with the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts. In addition, honors and awards have been bestowed upon him by AARP, Studio Museum of Harlem, Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, the Governments of France and Chile, New York Urban League, National Music Council, Pratt Institute, DownBeat magazine, The Jewish Advocate, Saint Peter's Jazz Ministry, WBGO/Jazz 88, Symphony Space and other organizations around the world. Mr. Wein was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame for his contributions to the musical heritage of the State of Rhode Island. He is a member of the Collegium of Distinguished Alumni of Boston University and is the recipient of the Centennial Medallion Citation from the Hampton Institute as well as 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. Mr. Wein was decorated with France's Legion d' Honneur for 'is creation of the contemporary jazz festival. He was also honored by the French government when he was appointed Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.
In addition to his work as a producer, George Wein is an accomplished pianist whose group, the Newport All-Stars, has toured the United States, Europe and Japan. His band has featured some of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz music.
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. In addition to his life in jazz, Mr. Wein 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, and the Alexander Family Endowed Scholarship Fund at Simmons College and the Joyce Alexander Wein Prize at the Studio Museum in Harlem.