Soul singer becomes doctor

6 July 2006 – for immediate release

As one of the most remarkable singer/songwriters in the UK, Joan Armatrading will be in the spotlight at Aston University in Birmingham tomorrow when she will receive an honorary degree for her services to the music industry.

Joan will join graduating students of the University in a special ceremony at 11am on Friday 7 July when she will receive an Honorary Doctorate.

Born on the island of St Kitts, in the West Indies, Joan moved to Birmingham with her family at the age of eight. Since the gift of her first guitar – purchased at a pawn shop by her mother in exchange for two prams – Joan has never looked back.

In the early 70’s Joan moved to London to embark on a music career and released her debut song Whatever’s for Us. Since then she has had a string of soulful hits including Love and Affection, Down to Zero, Drop the Pilot and Me Myself I.

Her soulful style and unique ability to display raw emotion through her lyrics, voice and guitar skills has made her a well admired musician. As a result of this, she has been nominated twice for Best Female Vocalist for the Brit Awards, as well as receiving a further two nominations for Best Female Vocalist for the American Grammy Awards. In 1996, she received the Ivor Novello Award for the Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection Award for her platinum, gold and silver albums.

Amongst her other impressive achievements, West Indies born Joan received the Key to Sydney and was a guest of honour at her home country’s Independence Celebrations. More recently, she has been nominated as one of the 100 most influential women in rock in the 1999 VH1 poll and also received a platinum CD for her contribution to the Lou Reed song Perfect Day.

Joan was also selected for the honour of performing for Nelson Mandela on his 70th birthday at London’s Wembley Stadium as well as being personally asked to write a tribute song to him, which she performed to him in 2000.

Professor John Saunders, Head of Aston Business School, who will present Joan with her award said: ‘I suggested Joan Armatrading because she is an individualistic and creative person who represents the elements we are so proud of here at Aston University. She expresses the multi and cross culturalism of the city and the melding of cultures is a very Brummie thing.

‘She is an uncompromising musician who has shown the real strength of character to find her own way in the world. From an early age she had the courage and individuality to break the mould. I respect her a lot.’

After five years of study, Joan received her BA (Hons) Open University degree in History in 2001. She has since become one of the Trustees of the Open University and was elected President of Women of the Year in the UK.

Also receiving an honorary degree for outstanding achievement on 7th July is John Edwards (Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands). On 8th July Karen Armstrong (writer and religious expert) and Elspeth Insch (Headmistress of King Edward VI Handsworth School, Birmingham) will also receive honorary degrees in recognition of their achievements.


For further press information please contact Sally Hoban on (0121) 204 4552 or Hannah Brookes on (0121) 204 4549.

Joan will be available for photographs at 12pm prompt on 7th July. Please meet University Press Officers Sally Hoban and Hannah Brookes in main reception.

Further press information about the other honorary graduates is available on request.

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