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Berklee Presents Honorary Doctorates To Etheridge, Franklin And Others

BOSTON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — At Berklee College of Music's 2006 Commencement in Boston, honorary Doctor of Music degrees were presented to Grammy-winning artists Melissa Etheridge and Aretha Franklin, saxophonist and educator Andy McGhee, and Grammy-winning producer and engineer Elliot Scheiner. Etheridge, a Berklee alumna, delivered the commencement address in front of more than 4,000 guests.

In her speech, Etheridge said that the students have reinvigorated her hope in the music industry. "Always be in your truth," she told them, "whether you are singing, whether you are wrapping your arms around your instrument and playing it, whether you are listening to it and mixing it, or if you are trying to find out the best way to bring music to the world. You were given this gift, you were chosen. Be in your truth, be in your light, be in your love. Go out there and be the musician that you are. Be the keeper of the dream of music."

Etheridge, Franklin, McGhee and Scheiner 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 over Berklee's international student body. Past Honorary Doctorate degree recipients have included Duke Ellington, David Bowie, Count Basie, B.B. King, Sting, James Taylor, Pat Metheny, Earl Scruggs, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, Quincy Jones, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, and Patti Labelle.

Berklee's class of 2006 included more than 800 students graduating with bachelor of music degrees or professional diplomas. Female graduates numbered 247, representing 31 percent of the total class.

International students from 42 different countries – the largest portions from South Korea and Japan -made up 29 percent of the class. Domestic students were from 43 U.S. states – the greatest number from Massachusetts, New York, and California. The top three majors were Professional Music, Music Business/Management, and Music Production & Engineering. Guitar, voice, and piano were the three most common means of musical expression among students of the graduating class. — Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner