Citation Corey Harris '91
President Hansen, I am honored to present Corey Harris.
Music is a messenger of culture, a bridge, a unifying force. Today we celebrate a brilliant musician whose work honors the transatlantic sweep of the African diaspora.
In the words of one reviewer: “Corey Harris is a scholar who, thank God, doesn’t play like one.” An evocative vocalist, stirring songwriter, and expert guitarist, Mr. Harris first gained worldwide renown as a stellar performer of delta blues, and, more recently, for his hybrid cross-continental Afro-roots-blues collaborative interpretations.
Corey Harris was a musician when he arrived at Bates, but his study, here, of cultural anthropology provided him with the conceptual framework and the ethnographic tools he still uses in his explorations of cross-cultural communication strategies. His life’s work as scholarly interpreter of musical fusion seems prefigured in his undergraduate research on West African pidgin and creole languages. With pride, we note that Mr. Harris has become one of our nation’s foremost cultural communicators, with a vibrant recording career, a global touring schedule, and a base of devoted fans.
For his contributions to contemporary culture, for his reverence for the resonances of Mother Africa, and for his seamless integration of original music and time-honored sound, I present Corey Harris for the degree Doctor of Music.
Corey Harris, son of Bates and son of the world, you infuse your music with the wealth of generations of musicians from New Orleans to Jamaica to Mali. You honor the College with your learnedness and musical gifts. Therefore by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the Degree of Doctor of Music, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.