When Willie Nelson heard the Berklee College of Music was making him a doctor, “I was going to ask them if I could write my own medication,” he says with a chuckle. “Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”
The country music titan is one of three artists upon whom Berklee is conferring honorary doctor of music degrees during its commencement ceremony Saturday at Agganis Arena. Legendary singer and songwriter Carole King and Grammy-winning multiplatinum pop-soul powerhouse and former Eurythmic Annie Lennox were set to join Nelson onstage.
Lennox, who was also slated to give the commencement address, was excited to be performing with the students during the annual graduation eve concert Friday. “It’s really a big production, which is just lovely,” she said, of the group’s planned arrangement of her gorgeous ballad “Cold.” She says the students played “exquisitely” in rehearsal. Lennox was also humbled to be receiving the honor alongside Nelson and King. “It’s hard to be objective and put myself in the same category,” she said.
On his bus parked outside the arena, Nelson called it a great honor to receive the degree from the prestigious music school and that he was also looking forward to sitting in with the Berklee students Friday night. “Yesterday when we were rehearsing, I tell you, it was incredible to see those young kids doing what they want to do,” said Nelson, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.