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Cassandra Wilson - Berklee College of Music Commencement Address 2020

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Jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer Cassandra Wilson delivers her commencement speech for the 2020 Berklee College of Music virtual graduation ceremony. Wilson received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

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Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson is an iconic jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer. She is heralded for incorporating blues, country, and folk music into her work, expanding the genre of jazz. In the 1980s, she met saxophonist Steve Coleman in New York and became one of the founding members of the M-Base Collective. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1992 and released the landmark album Blue Light ‘Til Dawn, paving the way for a new generation of jazz singers seeking an approach and repertoire that challenged the supremacy of the American standard songbook. Her accolades include two Grammy Awards, a Django d’Or, an Edison Jazz Award, and a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. She performed on Wynton Marsalis's Blood on the Fields, the first jazz work to receive the Pulitzer Prize. In 2015, Wilson joined forces with the prestigious Legacy Recordings, a subsidiary of Sony Music. Her latest project, Coming Forth by Day, was released on the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birth, April 7, 2015. Wilson has launched the website Really Cassandra Radio to develop a more direct relationship with her audience; a section of the site, Secret Garden, is designed for listeners to access music from her published and unpublished catalogue, including selections from her upcoming work, Jupiter Rising.

About Berklee College of Music:
Berklee is the preeminent institute of contemporary music and the performing arts, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs at its campuses in Boston, Massachusetts, and Valencia, Spain, and through its award-winning distance learning program, Berklee Online. Dedicated to nurturing the creative and career potential of the world’s most inspired artists, Berklee’s commitment to arts education is reflected in the work of its students, faculty, and alumni—hundreds of whom have been recognized with Grammy, Tony, Oscar, and Emmy awards.

At Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, students explore interdisciplinary approaches to music, dance, theater, film, business, health care, education, technology, and more. Our pioneering youth programs reach underserved classrooms throughout the U.S. and beyond. With students and alumni from more than 100 nations and educational partners across the world, we are forging new connections among art forms, musical traditions, and technologies to build a dynamic, diverse, and collaborative global arts community. Learn more at berklee.edu.

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