- Leonard "Lenny" Williams
Leonard "Lenny" Williams
Renowned Singer/Community Advocate
California State University, East Bay
Mr. Leonard "Lenny" Williams has long been active as an influential musician, artist and community leader whose contributions embody the ideals of California State University, East Bay and the California State University system.
Raised in Oakland, Mr. Williams played the trumpet in elementary school and nurtured his gifts as a vocalist by singing in local gospel choirs and groups. Early in his career, he worked with artists such as Sly Stone, Billy Preston and Andre Crouch. After winning several local talent contests, Mr. Williams signed his first record contract with Bay Area-based Fantasy Records, cutting two hit singles, "Lisa's Gone" and "Feelin' Blue." After these successes, Mr. Williams joined the emerging funk band Tower of Power. As the lead singer of Tower of Power, Mr. Williams helped record three milestone albums: Back to Oakland, Urban Renewal and the gold LP Tower of Power.
Returning to his solo career, Mr. William's musical accomplishments soared, beginning with the hit album Choosing You. His next album, Spark of Love, reached gold with the ballad "Cause I Love You." Over the years, Mr. Williams has continued his solo career, touring all over the world. He has shared the stage with renowned music legends such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Boney James and Alicia Keyes. Williams has expanded his artistic career to include acting, performing in several stage plays, including "Love on Lay Away," "What Men Don't Tell" and "When a Woman's Fed Up."
As an advocate in the local community, Mr. Williams serves on the board of directors for the Machen Center in San Francisco, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting underserved, at-risk youth, young adults and families. He also is an ambassador for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and serves on the board of directors for the Keep the Music Rockin' Foundation, which promotes awareness and support for music programs in San Leandro schools.
In recognition of his extensive achievements in the music industry and his commitment and service to his community, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, East Bay are proud to confer upon Leonard "Lenny" Williams the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.