UNCG to honor Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris

Posted on January 22, 2020

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Rhiannon Giddens (left) and Emmylou Harris (right)

Portrait of Rhiannon Giddens on left and Emmylou Harris on right
Rhiannon Giddens (left) and Emmylou Harris (right)

UNC Greensboro today announced that Grammy Award winning artists, producers, and UNCG alumnae Rhiannon Giddens and Emmylou Harris have been selected to receive honorary degrees to be awarded at the May 2020 Commencement ceremony.

Honorary degrees recognize individuals who demonstrate extraordinary achievement over their entire scholarly or artistic careers or who have performed distinguished public service in their lifetime.

UNCG alumna Rhiannon Giddens, a Grammy Award recipient as part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant, is a highly regarded figure in Americana “roots” music. Nominated for six Grammys throughout her career, Giddens is up for Best American Roots performance for “I’m On My Way.” Giddens served as special guest curator at the inaugural North Carolina Folk Festival in Greensboro, where she also performed.

One of the greatest living country singer-songwriters, Emmylou Harris is a 14-time Grammy winner, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Before she rose to fame, Harris was a student on a drama scholarship at UNCG. Known for her philanthropic work, Harris has helped to raise millions for charity. In 2004, she founded a no-kill dog rescue center in Nashville, Bonaparte’s Retreat, that takes in adoptable dogs at risk of being euthanized.

“We are so proud to honor Rhiannon Giddens and Emmylou Harris not only for their amazing accomplishments and the indelible impact they have had on music, but for the way they have embodied UNC Greensboro’s motto of service,” said Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “Rhiannon and Emmylou serve as an inspiration to the vast array of students who find their way to UNCG with high hopes and bold aspirations. They serve as role models for what can be achieved through hard work, tenacity, and a willingness to fearlessly pursue your passions. I hope that all of our students at UNCG will follow their example as they begin their own journeys and chase their own dreams.”

Previous Honorary Degree awardees include artist, philanthropist, and UNCG alumnus William Mangum; research pioneer Dr. Maunuskshi Wani; former Ambassador to Finland and businesswoman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter; NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell; NC Chief Justice Henry Frye; former NC Governor Jim Hunt; and author Maya Angelou.


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