Home > Jazz, Music > Mulatu honored by Berklee

Mulatu honored by Berklee

Ethiopian jazz giant Mulatu Astatke has been honored by the world-renowned Berklee College of Music. Mulatu, often dubbed as the father of Ethiopian jazz, was presented honorary doctor of music degree yesterday from the university’s president Roger H. Brown at 2012 commencement. Mulatu told Ethiopica Link over the phone that he was gratified to have received this honor and this was a magical moment in his long career. Speaking hours after ceremony, the jazz legend emphasized the accolade was more than an individual achievement.”It is a recognition of not only my own achievement but also my country’s rich and diverse musical heritage,”he said.
Mulatu delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and an estimated crowd of more than 4,000 guests at the Agganis Arena, according the university’s website. In his address, Mulatu, Berklee’s first African graduate, thanked the college for opening doors for musicians from developing nations, and encouraged graduates to think outside the box. “At Berklee, I was immersed in a motivating and creative academic environment where Ethio-jazz was conceived,” said Mulatu. “You now have the skills and the education to create new innovations in music . . . You are a selected few with a special gift, and we all have great expectations for you.” In his acceptance speech, Mulatu made a point of mentioning the different peoples and nationalities of Ethiopia whose extensive musical heritage has been his primary source of inspiration.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Eagles and 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss were also awarded the honorary degrees. Some of the college’s most accomplished students presented a tribute to the honorees with performances of music associated with their careers and two of the honorees performed. Backed by the Berklee Gospel Ensemble, Krauss performed the traditional Appalachian song “Down by the River to Pray.” Mulatu played vibraphone with students on his composition “Yakermew Sew.”
Mulatu was accompanied by his wife, Woizero Konjit and by his two sons. Mesert Mebrate, a prominent actress who is engaged Mickey Mulatu, one of the musician’s sons, accompanied the artist on this important occasion.
(photo taken from Mulatu Astatke’s facebook page)

  1. Fassilo
    May 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

    He deserve. Good to have you Dr.

  2. May 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Remember, he wasn’t given any kind of Honorary degree from his homeland (that I know of) !
    Although to learn cultural matters is complex for every one, this kind of serious cultural matter should not be omitted for the well-beingness of the nation state and its citizens. It is not too late, to follow the example of Berklee and reward our very cherished senior professional in this instance !

    I hate, I am sorry to say, the African jamboree we do when some one departs… We have to do some thing when some one is alive, in appreciation for his/her ‘life achievement’ in art and culture, (or other professions) like they do to the Hollywood stars whom we sometimes curse for being too frenzy marionettes.

    Bravo Mulatu Astatke !!!

    • Fikadu
      May 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

      I totally agree with the previous comment. We have not been that forward coming in honoring our heroes. However, it just to let you that Jimma University has already conferred an honorary degree to Gash Mulatu Astatke.

      • May 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

        Thank you Fekadu. Take notice of my comment then in the parenthesized “that I know of” […] I was expecting to see this gesture from AAU which has a music school dep’t under its auspices: Yared,! I don’t say Jimma’s [degree] is not sufficing an award to such a modern music giant such as Mulatu, but still, the relevant music institutions in the country should also do that. It is not still late !!!!! I cry a river, none of – most of – our international artists have been awarded honorary degrees. There is a sluggish culture by the Ethiopian public, which makes me furious, that take art just for granted, free of charge. I know it will take generations to give the right respect to the art, and the normal dignity to the artist, but it must start now! Eh, my country man?

  3. sol omon
    May 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Ethiopia is proud of u Dr. Mule

  4. bil
    May 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I think that we, Ethiopians, are far behind to understand, recognize and enjoy the works of this Jazz icon. Here, as always ‘Neby bageru Aykebberm’. How cursed we are!!

  5. May 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    No wonder, we need to open Modern Music School, be it after his name. You have no idea, how densely he caught the mind of the Contemporary Western music public. From Rio to Rotterdam. Until our schools and concert halls open, we have to enlighten our souls with his music. I don’t grapple that too, when most people fail to associate his music with Ethiopian music. His traces to the Yared music innovative traditions are pretty strong. His jazz improvisation is deeply rooted in the Ethiopian church quire, African music (Afro beat?), Jazz traditions. He recognizes the historic legacy of the medieval period Ethiopian composer. Sure, his doodles are from now and are subvert Classical music and are of different construct …

  6. June 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Mulatu actually has one son, Michael, and one daughter, Hermella, who were both with him on his visit to Berklee.

  7. alefo
    July 12, 2012 at 11:22 am

    i did not know meseret mebrate was engaged to Dr Mulatu Astateke`s son…how nice….Mulateu astake well derseved professional and you made all ethiopians proud through your works, thankyou!

  8. mesi
    August 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Viva To Mulatu Astatke !!!!!!!!, you make we Ethiopian so proud by your incredible works. Thank you so much.

  1. June 9, 2012 at 3:42 am
  2. July 2, 2012 at 6:07 am

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