Boston’s Berklee College of Music on Saturday awarded R&B legend, Usher Raymond, with an honorary doctorate for his significant contributions to music as well as philanthropy, News 3 reported. The 44-year-old, who has given us some of the best songs to hit the airwaves, started singing at 12 when his mother put him in music competitions.
The veteran singer caught the eye of top music producers culminating in his debut album, Usher, in 1994 and My Way, three years later. Following the conferment, the Burn singer took to Instagram to express his gratitude to the prestigious university.
“Thank you @berkleecollege for honoring me and presenting me with a Doctor of Music degree,” he captioned. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to share a message with the next generation of artists, producers, vocalists, arrangers, dancers, and more.”
The award-winning singer also shared some words of advice to the graduating class during the ceremony. “Break the barriers, identify that spark in you that motivates you to keep going, and don’t expect everything to be perfect and run smoothly. …Take what you’ve learned here [at Berklee], go into the world, and make great things,” he said.
The singer joins a long list of other prominent musicians who have received honorary degrees from Berklee College of Music, Billboard reported; including Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Celine Dion, B.B. King, Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, Esperanza Spalding, Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott, Ringo Starr, Gloria Estefan, and John Legend.
“No. 1 is always going to mean a lot to everybody. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, change your passion,” the Yeah singer told the news outlet in 2021. “It hasn’t changed mine, whether I put out a record that hit No. 1 instantly or took time to get there. I have a record company that’s willing to fight for it and get it heard, to connect with my audience and prospective new fans. I’ve tried a lot of stuff. There’s a way to play in R&B where you can be as creative as you want. Don’t cut yourself off — don’t feel you need to be tied so authentically to one thing.”