Missy Elliott, Alex Lacamoire, and Justin Timberlake to Receive Honorary Doctorates at Berklee Commencement
Berklee President Roger H. Brown will present five-time Grammy Award–winner Missy Elliott, three-time Tony and Grammy Award–winner Alex Lacamoire B.M. ’95, and award-winning actor and 10-time Grammy Award–winning musician Justin Timberlake with honorary Doctor of Music degrees at Berklee College of Music's commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 11, at the 7,000-seat Agganis Arena at Boston University.
This year's honorary doctorate recipients are being recognized for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring global impact. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones ‘51, B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra ’82, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucía, Carole King, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, George Clinton, Rita Moreno, Lionel Richie, Julio Iglesias, Mavis Staples, George Clinton, Valerie Simpson, Plácido Domingo, Wang Leehom ‘99, A. R. Rahman, Rosanne Cash, Nile Rodgers, and Esperanza Spalding B.M. ’05.
As is Berklee’s tradition, on commencement eve, Friday, May 10, students will pay tribute to the honorees by performing music associated with their careers. The concert and ceremony, both at Agganis Arena, are not open to the public.
Missy Elliott is a groundbreaking solo superstar, pioneering producer, songwriter, singer, and rapper. The five-time Grammy Award winner—with nominations spanning three decades—has achieved unprecedented success, including U.S. sales in excess of 30 million. Elliott’s six studio albums, including 2001’s landmark Miss E… So Addictive and the 2002 blockbuster Under Construction, have each been RIAA platinum certified or better, making her the only female rapper to achieve that milestone accomplishment. In 2015, Elliott made an unforgettable surprise performance at Super Bowl XLIX with Katy Perry, to 114.4 million viewers—the largest ever audience in Super Bowl history—with a medley of “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” and “Lose Control.” Digital sales skyrocketed in the following days, with both “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It” returning to the top 40 on Billboard’s top singles chart more than 10 years after their initial successes. The musical icon also teamed up with Michelle Obama to release the female empowerment anthem “This Is for My Girls," as part of the former First Lady’s Let Girls Learn initiative. The track supports various ongoing campaigns that center around empowering young women, and also features the talents of Kelly Rowland, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Clarkson, and Zendaya. In June of this year, Elliott will be the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Alex Lacamoire B.M. '95
A three-time Tony and Grammy Award winner for his work on the Broadway musicals Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and In the Heights, Alex Lacamoire has always had a fondness for musical theater. The classically trained pianist began his studies at the age of 4, and by the age of 11 he was playing in his first musical—a summer production of Bye Bye Birdie. The gifted musician, composer, and orchestrator majored in professional music while at Berklee, studying arranging and film scoring, in addition to playing in multiple jazz and rock ensembles. In December 2018, Lacamoire was presented with a Kennedy Center Honors, which included a special joint award for him and the other three Hamilton creators: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s writer and original star; director Thomas Kail; and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. The award praised them as “trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.” It marked the first time a piece of work, rather than an individual person, was honored. This past February, Lacamoire won his fourth Grammy for producing the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman, and he’s reuniting with his Hamilton collaborators as supervising music producer on the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon, which premiered in April.
Multitalented actor and musician Justin Timberlake has sold more than 32 million albums worldwide, sold out arenas across the globe, received numerous awards and nominations, and has become one of the most highly respected entertainers in the business. He released the four-times platinum song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from the film Trolls, which debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was ultimately the best-selling U.S. single in 2016. The single marked Timberlake’s 10th Grammy and garnered nominations for Academy and Golden Globe awards. In February 2018, Timberlake released his fourth solo album, Man of the Woods, which reached no. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and he is currently on his sold-out world tour in support of the project. A gifted actor, he has appeared in a diverse slate of films, including Alpha Dog, Bad Teacher, and Shrek the Third. He also earned strong reviews for his performance in the Academy Award–nominated The Social Network. Named “one of the 100 most influential people in the world” by Time in 2007 and 2013, Timberlake is a four-time Emmy Award winner for his appearances on Saturday Night Live, and he recently added author to his resume with the autobiographical book Hindsight & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me.