Among the well-wishers were Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who declared himself a huge fan of Beres’, Chevelle Franklin, and Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange.
“Congratulations to the legendary Reggae icon, Beres Hammond, on being awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of the West Indies. Beres’ soulful voice, general message and theme could be considered the soundtrack for many Jamaican moments,” the Prime Minister noted.
“His remarkable career, spanning over five decades, has not only touched the hearts of Jamaicans but has also gained him immense international acclaim. I am myself a huge Beres fan and Jamaica is so blessed to have him as a national treasure. We look forward to more of Beres’ timeless melodies that continue to resonate with people around the globe,” Holness added.
For her part, Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange said: “Well deserved I say to @bereshammond, one of the greatest artistes that Jamaica has produced on his being conferred with the Honourary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of the West Indies. Beres has consistently made music of the highest order producing hit after hit. His versality in the recording studio and on stage has been extraordinary. We wish you all the best Beres as you continue to regale Jamaica and the rest of world with your amazing repertoire.”
In an interview with The Gleaner following the presentation of the award, the Putting Up Resistance singer expressed gratitude to the UWI for the gesture.
“I’m glad that they could have acknowledged the works after so many years. I never asked them for this but I am grateful. My family is excited for me,” he said.
“If you ask me what’s next I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I never plan things, it just happens- vibes and everything follows in the right place at the right time. I don’t sit down and write songs, I just make things happen,” he added.
Beres is now the third Reggae artist to be presented with a doctorate by the UWI. He joins Rita Marley and Jimmy Cliff as music legends who have been presented with honorary degrees by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus.
The singer, whose full title is Hugh Beresford Hammond, O.J., was also among four Jamaicans who receive honourary degrees, the others being the late businessman Lascelles Chin, Ambassador Audrey Marks, and Professor E. Dale Abel.
The UWI had said that Hammond was chosen for the award “for his exceptional and dedicated contribution to the Jamaican music industry” and that throughout his five-decade career, the singer “has thrilled generations with his smoky-sweet voice”.
Hammond, who is a son of St. Mary, was presented with the Order of Jamaica in 2013 for his “exceptional and dedicated contribution to the Jamaican music industry”.
His 2002 album Music Is Life was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album and contained two of his classics Rock Away and They Gonna Talk.
In October 2003, he also received a proclamation from Brooklyn Councilwoman, Yvette Clarke, at the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York, “in honour of his great contribution to music”.
In August this year, he was also presented with an award in recognition of his exemplary dedication and soulful musical artistry by the Jamaican Museum and Cultural Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and later the Elite Icon Award which was presented by the Caribbean Music Awards.