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Berklee President Roger H. Brown presented an honorary Doctor of Music degree today to acclaimed recording artist Imogen Heap during the commencement ceremony for the master’s degree programs at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. In advance of the ceremony, graduate students prepared and performed a medley of her music in her honor at the commencement concert, held at l’Hemisfèric on Saturday.
London-based singer-songwriter and producer Heap has received five Grammy Award nominations and has won twice: for engineering her 2009 album Ellipse and for her contributions to Taylor Swift’s album 1989. She has written and produced four solo albums as well as tracks for movies and TV shows, and produced the score for the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, for which she won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play. She has also received an Ivor Novello Award, the Artist and Manager Awards’ Pioneer Award, and the Music Producers Guild (MPG) Inspiration Award.
"I can’t tell you how much it means to be recognized and given this honorary degree,” said Heap in advance of the ceremony. “I really feel completely spoiled already as I get to do what I love, and I work on projects and songs with people I love every day. I really believe that if you can do that in life, you have succeeded on such a huge level."
“Always say yes more than no, even if you are not sure you can do it. Say yes because you are going to learn from it, and you might learn something you didn’t know about yourself,” Heap advised the graduates in her commencement address. “You can’t control every moment in every day and there is where magic comes from, it is the special moments and it is confidence in yourself. You just have to give yourselves permission to be you, to carry on, to be empowered.”
As an independent artist, Heap has been a pioneer in the use of technology to empower artists with digital tools to help their careers, including an improved payment flow system and the means to acquire verified music rights. She has earned two honorary degrees for her revolutionary work on the MI.MU gloves, the wireless, sensor-enabled wearable controller gloves she designed for creating and performing music through movement and gesture.
In presenting the honorary degree, Berklee President Roger H. Brown praised Heap for “her visionary, pioneering artistry; her singular contributions to the development of emerging music technologies; and her profound and lasting impact on reshaping the landscape of data and music rights.”
At the commencement ceremony, 150 graduates from 30 countries received Master of Music degrees in music production, technology, and innovation; scoring for film, television, and video games; and contemporary performance with a concentration in production; and Master of Arts degrees in global entertainment and music business.
Berklee’s honorary doctorate recipients are recognized for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, George Clinton, Rita Moreno, Lionel Richie, A. R. Rahman, Justin Timberlake, and Missy Elliott. Honorary doctorates have previously been awarded at the Valencia campus to Eddie Gómez (2013), Plácido Domingo (2014), Emilio Aragón (2016), John McLaughlin (2017) and Al Di Meola (2018).