Julio Iglesias, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Harvey Mason, Doug Morris Honored at Commencement
Nearly 900 graduates from 62 countries received degrees today at Berklee’s 2015 commencement. Berklee President Roger H. Brown presented honorary doctor of music degrees to music legends Julio Iglesias, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Harvey Mason, and Doug Morris. Bridgewater delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and an estimated audience of nearly 7,000 guests at the Agganis Arena. The annual commencement concert, held the previous evening at the Agganis Arena, featured some of the college’s most accomplished students paying tribute to the honorees with performances of music associate with their careers.
Bridgewater opened her address by thanking the audience and recognizing that the students and faculty were in the room because they dared to dream. “You all have a collective dream that involves music, or else you would not be at this illustrious Berklee College of Music,” she began. “No matter whether you are out front or behind the scenes, please, stay honest in your dreams. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.” Continuing to encourage the new graduates, Bridgewater added, “Do not accept the word ‘no.’ ‘No,’ when you are going for your dreams, can be one of the most destructive words you have ever heard. When someone tells you ‘no,’ step around, go to the next door. There is a door that will open.”
Watch the commencement address and performances on Berklee's 2015 commencement playlist:
After hearing President Brown share words from Afo Verde, chairman/CEO of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal at Sony Music Entertainment; tennis legend Rafael Nadal; and former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy—speaking to his prolific recording career and exemplifying what it means to be a global music ambassador—Iglesias spoke extemporaneously, first in Spanish and then English. “I am an artist that has sung in different languages, I’ve sung in a multitude of languages, and the most beautiful thing that has happened to me in my life as an artist is this honor from Berklee. Yesterday, I asked the president how many students study at Berklee and where they are from, and he told me that 35-40% of the students are foreign. That means this open, global feeling instilled in all of you will help bring peace to the world.”
Accepting his honorary degree, Mason '68, an alumnus of the college, said, “The Berklee experience helped me become my own man.” He also stressed the importance of music education in public schools. “Every child should have the opportunity to discover music. Had that not been the case for me, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Mason. He closed his speech by offering some inspiring words for the class of 2015. “As you go out into the world, I urge you to search your heart, search your soul, and always be open and ready to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Before accepting his honorary degree, Morris heard remarks read by President Brown from Bono, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Iovine, and Simon Cowell, attesting to his influence over a long career in the industry. “I’ve lived my dream,” he said. “Starting as a musician and a songwriter gave me a big advantage because it gave me a commonality with the artists. I know what it’s like to be waiting for your record to come on the radio—it can give you a heart attack. Now, the industry is changing, but it’s not changing in any dramatic way. What’s changing is how we distribute and sell music. And, there would be nothing to distribute or sell if we didn’t have brilliant people creating what people love. When I got here I noticed something different, that everyone here loves music. It’s not like these tech companies who want the music to be free. I want the music to be valuable and worth something to everyone.”
This year’s honorary doctorate recipients were recognized for their achievements in contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for the influence their careers and music have had on Berklee’s international student body. Iglesias, Bridgewater, Mason, and Morris join the ranks of such esteemed recipients as Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Jimmy Page, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Amar G. Bose, Annie Lennox, Count Basie, Sting, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Chaka Khan, Steven Tyler, Carole King, George Clinton, and Pattie LaBelle.
About Berklee’s Class of 2015
This year's class hails from 62 countries, including South Korea, Canada, Japan, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Iceland, Iran, and Kenya. The graduates will follow in the footsteps of alumni who are innovators in music business, education, music therapy, production, and every area of performance and writing. Berklee alumni are winners of more than 300 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including Esperanza Spalding, Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Diana Krall, Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etherdige, Gary Burton, Juan Luis Guerra, A.R. Rahman, Alejandro Sanz, Lalah Hathaway, and professors Terri Lyne Carrington, Danilo Pérez, and Paula Cole.
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