UPDATED: February 21, 2013, at 10:46 p.m.
Nicole Scherzinger, the former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, has been named the Harvard Foundation’s 2013 Artist of the Year.
The musician, who now performs as a solo artist, has won two MTV Music Video Awards, as well as three Billboard Music Awards for the Pussycat Dolls’ 2005 hit song “Don’t Cha.”
Scherzinger will be honored on Saturday at the 28th annual Cultural Rhythms festival, a day-long campus diversity celebration that will also feature performances and cuisine from student groups.
Scherzinger, whose father is of Filipino descent and whose mother is of Russian and Hawaii descent, is the first woman of Asian American heritage to be honored with the award, according to S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation.
“It’s a real honor for us,” Counter said of Scherzinger’s selection.
In past years, Scherzinger has been nominated for the award several times by Harvard students, particularly those of Hawaiian and Filipino origin, Counter said.
On Saturday, Scherzinger will be roasted at 12 p.m. in Kirkland House, dine with students at a luncheon, and then receive her award at Cultural Rhythms’ 3 p.m. matinée show.
In choosing its Artist of the Year, the Harvard Foundation seeks to honor people of diverse backgrounds who have also dedicated time and effort to philanthropy, Counter said.
Scherzinger has been active in supporting individuals with Down Syndrome and raising money for breast cancer research.
In celebration of its 30th anniversary this year, the Harvard Foundation has also invited United States Treasurer Rosa G. Rios ‘87 to appear at the festival. Rios, who helped found Cultural Rhythms as an undergraduate, will introduce Scherzinger at the matinée show.
Student performers from a handful of student organizations across campus, including Harvard Bhangra, Mariachi Veritas de Harvard, the Kuumba Singers, and the Harvard Breakers, will also showcase their talents at the matinée show. More student performances will follow during an evening show later that day.
Last year Grammy Award-winning musician John Legend was honored at the festival. Other past honorees include Shakira, Wyclef Jean, Jackie Chan, and Matt Damon, formerly of the Class of 1992.
“The diversity of Harvard has changed considerably,” Counter said. “We celebrate our cultural diversity.”
—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @layaanasu.