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Valerie Simpson and Jimmy Page to receive honorary music degrees from Berklee

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Valerie Simpson, Jimmy Page, Geri Allen and Thara Memory will receive honoroary doctor of music degrees at Berklee College of Music’s commencement ceremony on May 10 at Boston University’s Agganis Arena,where over 900 Berklee graduates, their parents, and invited guests will be in attendance.

The honorary doctorate recipients are being recognized for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture.

Simpson, of course, was half of the legendary songwriting, production, and performing partnership of Ashford & Simpson, with her late husband Nick Ashford. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist, composer and producer Page is best known for his role in Led Zeppelin, as well as his earlier one in The Yardbirds.

Pianist, composer and educator Geri Allen is both a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and the first recipient of the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for jazz. Trumpeter and composer Thara Memory founded the acclaimed American Music Program youth jazz orchestra, and won a 2013 Grammy Award with his former student and Berklee alumna Esperanza Spalding, for his arrangement of the track "City of Roses" from her album Radio Music Society.

Berklee president Roger H. Brown will present the honorary degrees at the commencement ceremony. In keeping with Berklee tradition, students will pay tribute to the honorees by performing their music at the Agganis in a private concert on commencement eve.

Past Berklee honorary doctorate recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, David Bowie, Juan Luis Guerra, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, and George Clinton.

[The Examiner wrote liner notes on several Ashford & Simpson CD and DVD releases.]

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