Berklee Honors Loretta Lynn

  President Roger Brown (left) presented country music star Loretta Lynn Berklee's honorary doctor of music degree onstage at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on March 17.
  Photo by Chris Hollo

Berklee has been traveling to the home of country music for 20 years now. Each year, thanks to the efforts of faculty members Pat Pattison and Stephen Webber, 100-plus students spend their spring break sitting at the feet of the Nashville masters, learning the inside story from the industry's top performers, songwriters, producers, publishers, and managers. After two decades, more than 400 Berklee alumni make the area their home, contributing their own creativity and skills to the industry.

On March 17, Berklee was invited to the Grand Ole Opry to bestow an honorary doctor of music degree on songwriter and performer Loretta Lynn. An academic honor guard-composed of Pattison, Webber, Debbie Bieri, senior vice president for institutional advancement, and Berklee President Roger Brown-joined Lynn on stage, following a video highlighting her career.

Before a sold-out Opry crowd, in an appearance recorded for a national television and radio audience, President Brown praised Lynn for her pioneering career. "With 55 top-ten hits, 27 number-one songs, three Grammys, and other achievements too numerous to list, Loretta Lynn is an American icon," Brown said. "Her songs present her views as a down-home, liberated woman with plenty to say on a range of social issues. Loretta sang about these themes before anybody else in country music did."

When Lynn received her degree, she was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation from every corner of the hall-and no doubt, from her many fans in the broadcast audience. With humor, the country star accepted her award, saying, "I feel really smart now!"

-Rob Hayes