Usher received an honorary Doctor of Music degree at Berklee College of Music‘s 2023 commencement ceremony. It was held Saturday (May 13) at the Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.
Berklee Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs David Bogen presented Usher with the honorary doctorate. The R&B megastar was awarded with the degree for his invaluable contributions to the worlds of music and philanthropy.
“My goal as an artist has always been to inspire people to make a positive impact through my music, to make you feel something, and last night I felt proud…of the legacy that has been built and that we’re building together as artists,” Usher said during his commencement speech.
He also urged the graduating class to “keep running past that finish line [of your goals], 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.”
Among Usher’s guests in the audience were his mother Jonetta Patton, his sons, his partner Jennifer Goicoechea, and his longtime collaborators Jermaine Dupri and Rico Love.
Following commencement, Usher went to Instagram to express his gratitude. “They call me D-o-c-t-o-r R-a-y-m-o-n-d. Thank you @berkleecollege for honoring me and presenting me with a Doctor of Music degree,” he wrote. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to share a message to the next generation of artists, producers, vocalists, arrangers, dancers and more. Be brave and I hope your spark never goes away.”
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Saturday wasn’t just commencement day but also the 15th anniversary of his fifth album, Here I Stand. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It included his hit single “Love In This Club,” featuring Young Jeezy, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
In a recent interview with Rated R&B, the song’s producer Polow Da Don revealed the inspiration behind its creation. “I envisioned people dancing to a slow song. I was like, ‘How can I make people dance to a slow song but not lose the energy?’ I took EDM, that was on the rise and going crazy at the moment, and took a down-south Atlanta bass music approach and put the two together. It worked perfectly,” said Polow Da Don.
Circling back to Usher, his latest single “GLU” recently entered the top 10 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay chart, marking his 13th top 10 hit on this list. “GLU” was co-produced by Sean Garrett, Lil Jon, and The Avila Brothers.
Released on March 17 via Gamma, “GLU” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B Digital Song Sales chart.
Revisit Dr. Usher Raymond’s album Here I Stand below.