Berklee’s largest-ever graduating class, complete with more than 1,050 graduates, were greeted by music legends Carole King, Willie Nelson and Annie Lennox at Agganis Arena on Saturday morning, all of which were granted honorary degrees.
Lennox delivered the commencement address, interspersing inspiration with lines from several songs that inspired her as a teenager, including “Say a Little Prayer,” “Wichita Lineman” and King’s “It’s Too Late.”
Lennox encouraged students to embrace both change and their passions, saying:
Consider this, wherever you think you’re heading right now might turn out to take a completely different path. What looks like an ending might actually be the start of a brand new beginning. Wherever and however we find ourselves, what a privilege it is to enrich our lives through music: the incredible universal language of the soul. Enter it wholeheartedly, make it yours to share with the world in the very best way you can.
American country music singer Kris Kristofferson was in attendance to present Nelson’s honorary doctorate. The longtime friends performed a duet of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” at Friday night’s Commencement Concert, where students annually pay tribute to honorees by playing music associated with their careers.
“Last night was especially tremendous,” said Nelson during his acceptance. “I enjoyed hearing everyone play and sing so many great songs. The history of music is good, but the future is even better, thanks to you folks.”
Berklee President Roger Brown commended the school’s faculty and staff during the ceremony for their commitment to the students, particularly in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, and later addressed the parents.
“The knowledge and skills our students have accumulated are astounding,” Brown said. “They don’t fully realize it, but this training prepares them for many possible paths, inside the music industry and outside. If we have been successful, we have prepared them for a dynamic world in which new careers will be invented, the nature of which we cannot even yet imagine.”
For a look inside the concert and commencement ceremony, check out the photos below.