On May 27, during the Elmhurst College commencement ceremony, the Board of Trustees will confer honorary doctoral degrees on two people who have special connections to the College, and who have spent their lives sharing the gift of music: Chicago radio host Terri Hemmert ’70; and Grammy-winning trumpeter and former Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen.
For more than 40 years, Hemmert has been playing “Chicago’s Finest Rock” as a disc jockey on WXRT/Chicago. She was Chicago’s first female morning drive personality before moving to the midday position in 1992, which she has held ever since. Hemmert’s affection for the music of The Beatles is particularly well-known, and over the years she has hosted WXRT’s annual daylong Rampant Beatlemania feature and the Sunday morning program Breakfast with the Beatles. A noted humanitarian and activist, Hemmert has served on the board of directors for the Peace Museum, volunteered on behalf of the AIDS Pastoral Care Network and worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to create music education programs. As a communications major at Elmhurst College, Hemmert wrote for campus publications and worked at the campus radio station, WRSE, where she currently serves on the advisory board. Hemmert was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.
Although it’s been more than 25 years since Doc Severinsen led the NBC Orchestra on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” the legendary trumpet player hasn’t stopped performing, touring with guitarist Gil Gutierrez in a quintet called The San Miguel Five, as well as with big bands whose members are some of the best musicians in the business.
A Grammy award winner, Severinsen has made more than 30 albums–from big band to jazz-fusion to classical. In recent years, Severinsen has built a strong relationship with Elmhurst College. He has appeared with the Elmhurst College Jazz Band on three separate occasions over the last three years, beginning with a headliner turn at June Jazz in 2014. The latest performances took place last October, when he hired the Jazz Band to back him on a tour through Ohio. Severinsen will return to the College in June for another feature performance at June Jazz.