On Thursday 9th December 2021, Gary Crosby OBE, co-founder and Artistic Director of Tomorrow’s Warriors received an Honorary Doctorate, entitled ‘Doctor of Music honoris causa’ at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP).
At a ceremony that was live streamed from the University of London Institute in Paris, Senate House, London, Gary received the prestigious honour from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London Professor Wendy Thomson CBE, and Professor Anna-Louise Milne, Director of Graduate Studies and Research, who originally recommended him for the award and delivered an oration in his honour.
Professor Milne first met Gary in October 2019, when he was invited, along with fellow co-founder Janine Irons, to Paris to join a discussion curated by the University of London Institute in Paris as part of the Music Migrations: Paris/London Exhibition at the French National Immigration Museum.
Professor Milne explained how Gary and Janine had spoken to that audience two years ago, telling stories about the early days of Trojan Records, travels to Jamaica, and the work they had achieved with Tomorrow’s Warriors. Then, as they finished, a student in the French and Politics programme at the Institute spoke up unexpectedly about his own good fortune to have studied with Gary as a teenager.
It was a case of an unlikely but beautiful coincidence. Here was a young man engaged in learning a new language and how to untangle contemporary politics, who had never shared with his professors in Paris that he was also a musician. Meanwhile, Gary was surprised to meet an old pupil from London in his audience that evening, hearing about what it had meant for the students at the Institute to adopt French and make their way in a foreign city.
In a conversation that lasted long into the evening, they discussed the importance of music and language, and of finding time for your passions while studying and gradually discovering your place in the adult world – values at the heart of Tomorrow’s Warriors culture.
Following Professor Milne’s address, Gary accepted his honorary doctorate with a speech full of with humour and humility – recounting his early life and career, coming from humble beginnings to today and explaining to the gathered students and academics what TW has achieved over thirty years, including a lovely ‘shout-out’ to Janine.
Fittingly, Gary concluded his speech talking about Warriors’ ethos of ‘each one teach one’, and the important reminder that as a jazz musician you have to embrace the chaos!
Congratulations Doctor Crosby!
Professor Anna-Louise Milne, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of London Institute in Paris, said: “Gary Crosby has contributed so significantly, not only to contemporary British culture, but also to building connections across cultures and across sounds.
He embodies a border-less relation to the world founded on the capacity for music, words and time spent making these come together to change people’s lives.
The University of London Institute in Paris has chosen to honour that work and Gary’s life as a marker of its guiding belief in the power of cultures and people to be better together.”
Gary Crosby OBE, the co-founder and Artistic Director of Tomorrow’s Warriors added “I am deeply moved and humbled to receive this doctorate. It is an honour for me and I accept it with gratitude to Professor Milne and the team at ULIP. This has been a wonderful 30th anniversary year for Tomorrow’s Warriors, I couldn’t even dream of a better ending to the year!
I grew up in West London on a council estate, so through the support of my family, I know what the power of education and music can achieve to extend my horizons, enable me to look at the world differently and see how it could be a positive force for good and bring about change.
By reaching young people at a defining moment in their artistic journey, it’s been wonderful to see so much excellence coming through Tomorrow’s Warriors these past 30 years. I would like to share this honour with all the Warrior musicians it has been my privilege to bring through our programme.”