Nile Rodgers is one of three recipients of the 30th annual Crystal Award, the World Economic Forum announced on Monday (Jan. 8). The others are Michelle Yeoh, who last year became the first performer of Asian descent to win a best actress Oscar for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and architect and educator Diébédo Francis Kéré.
The winners will be honored at the opening session of the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on Jan. 15. The award celebrates “the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society,” according to a statement.
Rodgers receives the 2024 Crystal Award for his efforts to make the world a more peaceful, equal and inclusive place through his music, his commitment to fighting systemic racism, inequality and injustice, and by championing innovative youth voices.
Rodgers’s activism began as a teen Black Panther in New York. He participated in Live Aid in 1985 and the Concert for Ukraine in 2023. After 9/11, he co-founded the We Are Family Foundation (named after the 1979 classic that he and Bernard Edwards wrote and produced for Sister Sledge), promoting cultural diversity while empowering young people to change the world.
“My parents socialized me to care about people and give to others though we were ourselves financially poor,” Rodgers said in a statement. “When music gave me the opportunity to reach hearts the world over, I realized I’d been given a priceless gift. When I give that gift to others, I get back more than the wealthiest person on earth.”
Rodgers has received numerous prestigious awards in the past decade. In 2016, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The following year, he received the award for musical excellence from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2023, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy. He is an Apple Music producer-in-residence, Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman, and Hipgnosis Songs co-founder.
With CHIC, Rodgers pioneered a musical language with “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” both of which topped the Billboard Hot 100. The latter was later interpolated in The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” which in January 1980 became the first rap track to make the top 40 on the Hot 100.
Rodgers’ work in The CHIC Organization – including Sister Sledge, Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out”), David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”) and Madonna (“Like a Virgin”) – led to a string of top-selling albums and singles. He has won four Grammys in the past decade for collaborations with Daft Punk (Random Access Memories and its smash single “Get Lucky”) and Beyoncé (“Cuff It” from Renaissance).
The Crystal Award is presented at Davos each year by Hilde Schwab, chairwoman and co-founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum.
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