Although best known as a talented and creative jazz singer, Cleo Laine was also in her early career an accomplished actress, playing at the Royal Court Theatre and starring in Show Boat at the Adelphi. In 1964 her collaboration with her husband Sir John Dankworth, the musician and composer – also an honorary fellow of Hughes Hall – produced a noted album, Shakespeare and All That Jazz. A solo performance at New York”s Carnegie Hall in 1983 earned her a Grammy. The award of a DBE in 1997 made her Dame Cleo Laine.
Dame Cleo Laine was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of Hughes Hall in 2004.