Randy Weston African Rhythms
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Colby College
Honory Degree
Doctor of Music for Randy Weston

May 20, 2012

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and 2011 Guggenheim Fellow Randy Weston.  Man of music and of pride. Steward and champion of your people's heritage. 
A self-described African born in the United States, you have helped reclaim Africa’s rightful and honorable place in both jazz and American history.

In 1961, armed with the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, the encouragement and poetry of Langston Hughes, the friendship of fellow Brooklynite Max Roach, and the spiritual foundation of the black church, you lent your voice to the movement to free African peoples from the yokes of colonialism and slavery.

When you went to Africa to explore your origins, you met musicians, political heroes, philosophers, and sages. You brought their rhythms, their messages of pride and dignity, back to African Americans. In your piano playing and compositions you honored the old masters while searching out your own adventurous style.

Your work covers a prodigiously ambitious landscape, from the Thelonius Monk-influenced work of the late Fifties and early Sixties, to your great jazz standards “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles,” to the groundbreaking orchestrations of Uhuru Afrika, to the 6/8 rhythms of the late, adventurous African Cookbook and The Spirits of Our Ancestors.

You never accepted segregation of any kind, whether based on race or schools of jazz. Beboppers like Dizzy Gillespie and Cecil Payne and so-called free jazz artists like Billy Harper and David Murray have all joined hands with you to make exciting, original music.

At age 86, with your new bands, The Gnawa Master Musicians of Morocco and African Rhythms, you are still giving us deep and vital joy. In your own words: “Music was created from the universe, because our ancient ancestors ... knew that music came from the universe. It was the Creator’s way of giving the people on Earth some healing, some beauty.”

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Randy Weston, the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa.
The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 20, 2012.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Randy Weston, William D. Adams Colby's 19th president,
Tony Blair, Randy Weston, William D. Adams
photo by Fred J. Field


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