By Katherine Cole
Put down the keyboard, no need to send the outraged missive. I know that Darius Rucker was the lead singer of the group and there really was no one named “Hootie” in Hootie and the Blowfish. But there is a Dr. Darius Rucker and his latest hit is “Wagon Wheel.”
The rocker turned country star gave the commencement address to the class of 2013 at the University of South Carolina, telling graduates of the South Carolina Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences to not just follow their dreams, but also to “find something that makes you want to give ’til it hurts.” In return, Rucker received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from USC, the same school he and his former bandmates attended before dropping out to become full time musicians. Go here for excerpts from his speech, along with some cute shots of Darius Rucker in full graduation regalia, cap, gown, hood, the whole deal.
The Berklee College of Music in Boston handed out over 1050 degrees to students from more than 50 countries earlier this month. Those graduates, their friends and family, were treated to a speech by singer, songwriter and activist Annie Lennox. In her speech, the co-founder of the British duo Eurythmics, told the crowd “What a privilege it is to enrich our lives through music,” urging them to share their music with the world.
And in case you don’t have time to watch the whole thing right now, I’ll let you know that Lennox (who also received an honorary Doctor of Music from Berklee that day) sang a bit during her speech, quoting a few lines from songs that have influenced her. Among the writers she acknowledged was Carole King who, along with Willie Nelson, was also “hooded” during the graduation ceremony.
Wynton Marsalis had the honor of addressing the class of 2013 at the University of Vermont May 19th. A friend who was in the audience told me the speech was a wonderful combination of humor and thoughtfulness. The famed trumpeter included several comments about student life in the college town of Burlington, no doubt gleaned from visits to his son Simeon, who was a member of the graduating class. As you might guess, there was a bit of music thrown into his speech, too!
We’re almost at the end of the graduation season here in the US, but our friends across the pond are just getting started handing out the honorary sheepskins. Singer Eddi Reader will be getting an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh at the end of June (her fourth, if you’re keeping track) and Annie Lennox will be back in her cap and gown at the University of Essex in July, where she will be honored for her work in political and social activism and her long history of campaigning for social causes.
Have I missed anyone? If you spotted a singer or musician striding across the stage, either giving a graduation speech or picking up an honorary degree, let me know! And send a photo, if you have one!