Missy Elliott Honored at Berklee Commencement
Hip-hop legend Missy Elliott was among the three music notables honored at the Berklee College of Music commencement ceremony Saturday morning, receiving honorary doctorate.
Along with 10-time Grammy winner and award-winning actor Justin Timberlake and acclaimed Broadway orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, Elliott was honored in front of nearly 7,000 attendees and over 1,000 Berklee graduates, faculty, and staff. The event took place at the Agganis Arena at Boston University.
Lacamoire, an acclaimed composer, producer, orchestrator, musical director, and four-time Grammy Award-winner, delivered the commencement address to the class, with Timberlake and Elliott addressing graduates briefly after receiving their doctor of music degrees from Berklee President Roger H. Brown.
The night before commencement, the three notables joined the students for the annual commencement concert. Featured some of the college’s most accomplished students paying tribute to the honorees by performing their music, the musical tributes included Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and “Get Ur Freak On,” songs from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen originally arranged by Lacamoire, and Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” and “Rock Your Body.” All three honorees joined the students on stage during the concert’s finale, and Timberlake sang on “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Elliott is the first hip-hop artist to receive Berklee’s honorary doctorate. “There will be ups and downs—prepare for that,” said Elliott in her remarks to the graduating class. After detailing her challenges, such as losing awards, being dropped from a label, and becoming ill with Graves’ disease, she encouraged graduates to be patient through the struggle and never give up on themselves. “As long as you are breathing, it is never too late. Don’t forget that. You have come too far to quit.”
The honorary doctorate recipients were recognized for their achievements in contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for the influence their careers and music have had on Berklee’s international student body.