CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

Cassandra Wilson and Sheila E. to Be Honored Virtually by Berklee

The singer and percussionist will receive honorary doctorates at this year's online commencement ceremony

Cassandra Wilson performing at the Jazz Foundation of America 16th Annual A Great Night in Harlem Gala Concert at the Apollo in NYC (photo by Udo Salters c/o JFA)
Cassandra Wilson performing at the Jazz Foundation of America 16th Annual A Great Night in Harlem Gala Concert at the Apollo in NYC (photo by Udo Salters c/o JFA)

Like just about everything else in the world at the moment, college graduations are being seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with ceremonies being canceled or postponed left and right. However, Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory are pressing on with the help of the internet—and the participation of vocalist Cassandra Wilson and drummer Sheila E., who are among five artists to be presented with honorary doctorates this year. The award presentations will be part of the schools’ virtual commencement ceremonies, which will stream on Berklee’s social media channels on May 9.

The other 2020 honorary degree recipients include ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov; actor/singer Andre De Shields; and singer, actor, and producer John Legend.

As part of the honors, a group of student performers from the College and Conservatory will, by virtue of an online collaboration, record a multi-genre musical tribute to the recipients. It will be recorded for broadcast on Berklee’s YouTube channel on May 8. The virtual commencement ceremonies will be broadcast the following day on Berklee’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.