Richard Davis is an international performing musician and Professor of Bass (European Classical and Jazz), Jazz History and combo improvisation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Chicago born, he came to the UW-Madison in 1977 after spending 23 years in New York City establishing himself as one of the world’s premier bass players. Downbeat International Critics Poll named him Best Bassist from 1967-74. He has recorded a dozen albums as a leader and 3000 recordings/jingles as a sideman. Some of his performance/recording credits include Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Don Sebesky, Oliver Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal and a host of other notables.
Mr. Davis is equally at home in the world of euro classical music, having played under the batons of George Szell, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Gunther Schuller, and Leonard Bernstein. His great versatility as a bassist keeps him in constant demand for worldwide concert appearances. For nearly fifty years he has drawn enthusiastic audiences in Japan, Europe, Russia, South America, Puerto Rico, Cuba, The West Indies, Hong Kong , Israel and United States. His most recent CD release (May 2000) , The Bassists: Homage to Diversity (King Records) was recorded in Japan. This CD was inspired by experiences related to diversity dialogue. His second CD with King records So In Love was assembled with the idea of embracing the oneness of humankind.
In 1993, he founded the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, Inc. which annually brings in 17 masterful bass instructors/performers to teach young bassists ages 3-18.
Prof. Davis has received honorary doctorate degrees in Musical Arts and Humane Letters, and the Hilldale Award for distinguished teaching from former Chancellor Donna Shalala. In 2000 he received the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Award from the Rotary Club Of Madison. International Peace Award Tokyo Japan, U of WI/Madison Mentors Award. In 2001 he received the Governor’s (Wisconsin) Arts Award. In the year 2002 he received the Urban League Whitney M. Young Award, N.A.A.C.P. W.E.B.DuBois Advocates award and many other community based awards. In the year 2007 Reverend Richard Davis was ordained by the Universal Ministries (non-denominational).
In 2008, Richard Davis received the MAMA (Madison Area Music Award Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award, Human Rights Award (Rev.James C. Wright), “FIGS” 2008 First Interest Group Students (Freshman Year), the TRIO award/first in family to go to College/Awarded by Caroline McCormack. In 2009 he received the Exceptional Service Award University of Wisconsin-Madison 2009 (Gary Sandefur, Dean), and the Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts (Wisconsin Historical Society).
Richard Davis has been a faculty member at UW Madison for 25 years. In 1998 he self elected to form Retention Action Project (R.A.P.) That body of people collaborate withVice Chancellor Paul W. Barrows office and Seema Kapani (Equity and Diversity Resourse Center). on student affairs whose main goal is to educate all students toward multicultural competency. He has facilitated many open dialogs (video viewing) on racial/class issues in his home, colleges, municipal agencies etc.
Other activities on the UW campus and community include :
1. Faculty Diversity Liaison
2. Faculty House Fellow
3. Pathway to Excellence (Board Member)
4. UW Campus Climate Committee
5. N.A.A.C.P. Education Committee
6. Co-advisor for Campus based P.R.E.A. (Promoting Racial and Ethnic Awareness
He has been instrumental in bringing to the UW campus renowned speakers and social change activists such as Peggy McIntosh (White Privilege), Jane Elliott (Brown Eyes Blue Eyes), Francie Kendall, Nathan Rutstein (Racial Healing in America, Kirk Hogan (Anthropoligist) “Oneness of Us All”, Victor Lewis, Hugh Vasquez, Color of Fear (Stir Fry ) 1995, Paula Rothenberg and Allan G. Johnson (Gender Knot). Prof. Davis is devoted to equity issues and shares freely his wisdom, home, and resources with one and all to help create an environment where all can experience dignity and peace. Prof. Davis initiated the S.E.E.D (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) on the U of W/Madison campus. He has also initiated a chapter in Madison of the “Institutes for the Healing of Racism,Inc. with the intent to introduce the oneness of humankind to the Univ, Madison Metropolitan School District, Police, Fire departments and community churches.
Richard Davis is currently working on his autobiography.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
1. Wisconsin Arts Governor’s award 2001
2. NAACP Madison, Wi Branch W.E.B. DuBois Advocates Award (Education)
3. International Society of Bassists Award for Board of Directors service
4. International Society of Bassists/Young Bassists award
5. Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award (Rotary Club).
6. Urban League (Whitney B. Young) Award 2002
7. Madison Magazine / Madison’s Best
8. Hilldale Award University of Wisconsin-Madison(Donna Shalala) 1989-90
9. ASCAP composers award/last 7 years
10. Down Beat International Jazz Poll award from 1964-1977
11. International Peace award / Tokyo, Japan 1987
12. Community Service award (WORT)1990
13. NAACP Act-So Judges award 1999
14. National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award 1999
15. Franklin-Randall MMSD PTO Award 1989 -1990
16. University of Wisconsin/Madison Mentor Program 1988
17. Certificate of Appreciation NAACP 2000-2001-2002
18. Blue Note Tokyo Musical Excellence award
19 Certificate of Appreciation (Plato) University of Wisconsin-Madison 1997
20. Certification Mt. Zion Baptist Church 1999
21. Certificate of Ass. Membership Nat.Jazz Service Organization 1995-99
22. Jazz and Pop Best Bassist Annual Readers Poll 1968
23. Endowed Chair University Club University of Wisconsin-Madison
24. Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity Life Membership
25. Arts Midwest Jazz masters award 1993
26. 3/2./00 Received 1st Hate Mail letter from unknown to Campus Diversity (Happy to have received/joined my white anti-racist)
27. Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts/Vandercook College of Music 1992
28. Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters/Edgewood College 1998
29. State of Wisconsin/City of Madison Committee for the Arts 1990 (Mayor Paul Soglin)
30. Mayoral Proclamation Award / Mayor Soglin 1993
31. Strathmore’s Who’s Who 1960-Present
32. Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 2004
33. Excellence Award/ Umoja Honoree Sept 2005
34. Clark County School District Equity & Diversity Education Department
Las Vegas Nevada Dr.Celeste Jackson Stansberry, Coordinator lll Presenter for EDE speaker series.
35. National Foundation for the Advancement in Art Teacher Recognition 2005-6
36. MAMA (Madison Area Music Award Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award 2008
37. Human Rights Award (Rev.James C. Wright) 2008
38. “FIGS” 2008 First Interest Group Students (Freshman Year)
39. TRIO award/first in family to go to College/Awarded by Caroline McCormack
40. Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts (Wisconsin Historical Society) 2009
41. Exceptional Service Award University of Wisconsin-Madison 2008 (Gary Sandefur, Dean)