Wynton Learson Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards. In 1983 and 1984, he became the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records. He is one of only two artists to win Grammy Awards for five consecutive years of musical contributions (the other being polka bandleader Jimmy Sturr). Bill Cosby has earned six consecutive Grammys for Best Comedy Performance/Recording.
Honorary degrees Marsalis has received include those conferred by New York University, Columbia, Harvard, Howard, the State University of New York, Princeton, University of Vermont and Yale. Marsalis was honored with the Louis Armstrong Memorial Medal and the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement and was dubbed an Honorary Dreamer by the I Have a Dream Foundation. The New York Urban League awarded Marsalis with the Frederick Douglass Medallion for distinguished leadership and the American Arts Council presented him with the Arts Education Award.
Time magazine list of promising Americans under the age 40 selected Marsalis in 1995, and in 1996, Time celebrated Marsalis as one of America's 25 most influential people. In November 2005, Marsalis received the National Medal of Arts. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan proclaimed Marsalis an international ambassador of goodwill for the United States by appointing him a UN Messenger of Peace (2001).
In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio, Blood On The Fields. In a personal note to Marsalis, Zarin Mehta wrote, "I was not surprised at your winning the Pulitzer Prize for Blood On The Fields. It is a broad, beautifully painted canvas that impresses and inspires. It speaks to us all ... I’m sure that, somewhere in the firmament, Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong and legions of others are smiling down on you."
Marsalis won the Netherlands’ Edison Award and the Grand Prix du Disque of France. The Mayor of Vitoria, Spain, awarded Wynton with the city's Gold Medal – its most coveted distinction. In 1996, Britain's senior conservatoire, the Royal Academy of Music, made Marsalis an honorary member, the Academy's highest decoration for a non-British citizen. The city of Marciac, France, erected a bronze statue in his honor. The French Ministry of Culture appointed Wynton the rank of Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature, and in the fall of 2009, Marsalis received France's highest distinction, the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, an honor that was first awarded by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Marsalis, with his father and brothers, are group recipients of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.
Marsalis has toured 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica, and nearly five million copies of his recordings have been sold worldwide.