The Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA will bestow Honorary Doctor of Music degrees to Carole King, Willie Nelson and Annie Lennox at their commencement on May 11 at the Agganis Arena at Boston University.
College president Roger H. Brown made the announcement, adding that all three musicians would be saluted the night before the ceremony during their traditional concert put on by college students.
Berklee regularly honors great musicians with doctorates for their achievements and influence in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Dizzy Gillespie, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Juan Luis Guerra, Loretta Lynn, Paco de Lucía, David Bowie, the Edge, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Chaka Khan, Bonnie Raitt, George Clinton, Alison Krauss and Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.
Here is what the Berklee College press release said about the three honorees:
Carole King, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is the most successful female songwriter in pop music history. King penned dozens of hit songs in the 1960s with then-husband Gerry Goffin, including One Fine Day, The Loco-Motion, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. It was 1971’s Tapestry that took her to the pinnacle. Tapestry won three key Grammy Awards—Record, Song, and Album of the Year—a first for a female artist, sold more than 25 million copies, and remained the best-selling album by a female artist for 25 years. She has amassed three additional platinum and seven gold albums. King reunited with James Taylor—who hit No. 1 with her song You’ve Got a Friend—for Live at the Troubadour, resulting in a 2010 world tour and documentary. More than 400 of her compositions have been recorded, by more than 1,000 artists, resulting in 100 hit singles. King is also actively involved with environmental organizations in support of forest wilderness preservation. She released her memoir, A Natural Woman, in 2012.
Willie Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician in his six-decade, 200-plus album career. He has also amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist. The iconic Texan is the creative genius behind historic recordings like Crazy, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust. In 2010, he released Country Music, produced by T Bone Burnett. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. Nelson’s 2011 albums included Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles and Remember Me Vol. 1. In 2012, Heroes, his first album for Legacy Recordings, spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Americana Radio Chart. His book Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die hit the Top 10 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Written in his inimitable, homespun voice, the book is a deeply personal look into the heart and soul of a unique man and one of the greatest artists of our time. Let’s Face the Music and Dance, an album of deep pop country classics performed by Nelson and Family, comes out in April.
Annie Lennox, singer, songwriter, activist, and one of the finest musical voices of our time, is celebrated as an innovator and icon. Born in Scotland, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she met Dave Stewart and formed Eurythmics. The duo sold more than 75 million albums, with more than 20 international hits. In 1990, Lennox’s solo debut, Diva, entered the UK charts at No. 1, selling 6 million copies worldwide. Lennox is an ambassador for UNAIDS, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the British Red Cross. After witnessing the plight of women and children struggling with HIV in South Africa, she founded the SING campaign to help prevent the spread of the virus. Her accolades include eight BRIT Awards, 10 Grammy nominations and four Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, the American Music Awards Lifetime Achievement, Billboard’s Century Award, the Nobel Peace Laureates Woman of Peace Award, and a Lifetime Achievement from the Inspiration Awards for women. In 2011 she was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in recognition of her humanitarian work.