Boston, MA – Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone will receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music on Friday, April 5th, at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC). The honorary Doctor of Music degree is presented to individuals who have made a singular contribution to the arts, and whose career achievements reflect the musical and educational values of the college at the highest level.
“To be named as a recipient of the honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music is a defining milestone of my career,” says 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.”
In addition, Rhone will deliver the keynote during the college’s annual Career Jam, which takes place on campus, with the day-long event culminating in The Sylvia Rhone Tribute Concert that evening at the BPC. The concert, which is open to the public, will be led by record producer, musician, and film composer Rob Lewis, an artist-in-residence with the college’s Ensemble Department. The tribute concert will feature Berklee students performing the music of numerous genre-spanning, world-renowned artists, including Missy Elliott, Camila Cabello, and Tracy Chapman—whose careers were launched by Rhone.
“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, Artists and Music Industry Relations.
A graduate of the Wharton School, Rhone’s career in the music industry has spanned more than four decades, beginning at Buddha Records in 1974. Over the next 10 years, she steadily rose through the ranks at ABC Records, Ariola Records, and Elektra, until becoming vice president, general manager of Black Music Operations at Atlantic Records in 1986. At Atlantic, she guided the careers of Levert, En Vogue, Troop, Michel’le, Miki Howard, Brandy, The D.O.C., Yo-Yo, Simply Red, The System, Pantera and AC/DC. Under her vision and leadership, Atlantic Records became the first major label to invest in hip-hop, most notably with female rappers JJ Fad and MC Lyte. Four years later, Atlantic launched East West Records America and Rhone became chairman.
By 1994, Rhone was named the chair and CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group, where she launched the careers of Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Tracy Chapman, Jason Mraz, and others. In 2004, Rhone became president of Universal Motown Records and executive vice president at Universal Records. She moved to Epic Records in 2012 and was named president in 2014, working alongside chairman and CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Rhone has headed the label’s operations since Reid stepped down in 2017, overseeing such stars as DJ Khaled, 21 Savage, French Montana, Future, and Camila Cabello.
Earlier this year, the music executive was named to Billboard magazine’s “The Power 100” list.