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Donald Harrison - Berklee College of Music Commencement Address 2021

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Donald Harrison delivers his commencement speech for the 2021 Berklee College of Music virtual graduation ceremony. Harrison received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

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Donald Harrison
Donald Harrison Jr. ’81 has built a whirlwind career as a saxophonist while establishing cultural and educational traditions in his native New Orleans, Louisiana. Known for creating nouveau swing, a jazz style that combines R&B, funk, hip-hop, and African dance, Harrison has toured all over the world, with many albums and honors to his name. He still finds time to be Big Chief of Congo Square Nation in New Orleans for Mardi Gras season, and also serves as artistic director of the Tipitina's Foundation Internship Program, where he helps New Orleans youth, especially the disadvantaged, realize their musical dreams. Born in 1960 to a musical New Orleans family, Harrison’s father, Donald Sr., was a Big Chief, part of the African American tradition of participating in dancing, singing, and call-and-response in fanciful costumes during Mardi Gras. Harrison’s career as a saxophonist has included working with top names in jazz and other genres, including Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Lena Horne, the Notorious B.I.G., and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Harrison’s albums include Quantum Leap, which was called a breakthrough by critics for its joining of cutting-edge jazz with New Orleans funk. In 2015, he recorded his first classical composition, “Congo Square Nation,” with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Harrison's honors include two French Grand Prix du Disques; accolades from American, Swiss, and Japanese publications; and numerous awards from his hometown of New Orleans.
Donald harrison, berklee, Berklee College of music
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