Carlos Simon conducts an original cue at the 2019 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop

ASCAP Composer Carlos Simon Receives 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence

July 21, 2020

ASCAP applauds the brilliant Carlos Simon, who has become just the second composer to be honored with a Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, recognizing extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians. Along with a $50,000 career grant, Sphinx annually awards the Medals of Excellence to three artists who, early in their career, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities. The recipients each receive a $50,000 career grant, bestowed at a private celebration co-hosted by The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This year’s ceremony will take place on March 31, 2021.


Simon has a long history with ASCAP. A member since 2008, he participated in the 2015 NYU ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop (where he was named a “Composer to Watch”) and was one of 12 up-and-coming composers selected for the 2019 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in LA. He has earned a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from The ASCAP Foundation; he also performed his original music at The ASCAP Foundation’s “Songwriters: The Next Generation” showcase in 2019 (watch his performance here).


Said Sphinx President and Artistic Director, Afa S. Dworkin about this year’s Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipients: "Amidst this challenging yet transformative time, the commitment to excellence demonstrated by...Carlos Simon...offer(s) all of us hope and vision for a more just and equitable future. They stand upon the mighty shoulders of generations of Black and Latinx artists who have made significant contributions to the world of music. The opportunity to help empower their careers today is a true privilege: together, we look forward to witnessing how they will help transform our field.”


About Carlos Simon Carlos Simon is a native of Atlanta, Georgia whose music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism. Recent commissions have come from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Reno Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra, Irving Klein String Competition. Simon’s latest album, MY ANCESTOR’S GIFT, was released on the Navona Records label in April 2018. Described as an “overall driving force” (Review Graveyard) and featured on Apple Music’s “Albums to Watch.” As a part of the Sundance Institute, Simon was named as a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018, which was held at the historic Skywalker Ranch. His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series. Simon earned his doctorate degree at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He has also received degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College. He has served as a member of the music faculty at Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and now serves as Assistant Professor at Georgetown University. Read more about him at


About the Sphinx Organization

Sphinx is the social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx's four program areas – Education & Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists, and Arts Leadership – form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in classical music at every level. Sphinx Medals of Excellence is one of Sphinx's Arts Leadership programs.