Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Berklee College of Music Honours Ethiopia’s Mulatu Astatke (Plus: Video)

Earlier this month, Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke was presented with an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, alongside fellow musicians the Eagles and Alison Krauss. Astatke, known as the father of Ethio-Jazz and notably Berklee’s first African graduate, delivered the 2012 commencement address to over 900 graduates.
Close to 900 graduates from 58 countries received degrees today at Berklee’s 2012 commencement. Berklee president Roger H. Brown presented honorary doctor of music degrees to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Eagles, 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, and innovative Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke. Astatke delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and an estimated crowd of more than 4,000 guests at the Agganis Arena.
In his address, Astatke, Berklee’s first African graduate, thanked the college for opening doors for musicians from developing nations, and encouraged graduates to think outside the box. “At Berklee, I was immersed in a motivating and creative academic environment where Ethio-jazz was conceived,” said Astatke. “You now have the skills and the education to create new innovations in music …You are a selected few with a special gift, and we all have great expectations for you.”

Watch a video of the graduation ceremony, including Astatke’s address: