Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter to be commencement speaker at Warren Wilson

From the announcement from Warren Wilson College:

Date: May 12
Time: 10 a.m.
Site: Sunderland Residence Hall Lawn

Main Address: Janis Ian, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter

Bachelor’s degree candidates: 224 (surpassing previous record of 201 in 2010)

Leading majors: Environmental studies, global studies, sociology/anthropology

Highest student honor: To be announced May 11 (faculty/staff vote)
Graduation tradition: Each graduate receives a diploma and hemlock sapling

Honorary degrees: Irwin Belk of Charlotte; Billy Edd Wheeler of Swannanoa

Commencement contact: Communications Director John Bowers (828-771-7004)

About the speaker: Best known as a songwriter/singer, Janis Ian also is a magazine columnist and science fiction author. Her autobiography, “Society’s Child,” received much acclaim upon publication in 2008. She has received several Grammy nominations and in 1975 won “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” for her huge hit record “At Seventeen.” On Oct. 11, 1975, Ian and Billy Preston were the first musical guests on the debut of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Ian and Warren Wilson College have forged strong ties in recent years. In 2010 The Pearl Foundation, founded by Ian and named in honor of her late mother, established The Pearl Foundation Scholarship at Warren Wilson. Janis Ian and her partner, Patricia Snyder, oversee the foundation. This past summer, Ian was one of several Grammy Award winners who taught and performed at The Swannanoa Gathering during its 20th anniversary season.

Irwin Belk of Charlotte and Billy Edd Wheeler of Swannanoa will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters from the college during the commencement ceremony. They are the first recipients of honorary degrees from Warren Wilson College.


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