Honorary doctorate for Sheffield song king Eliot Kennedy

Song king: Eliot Kennedy.
Song king: Eliot Kennedy.
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STARMAKER Eliot Kennedy, who has prescribed the hits for many healthy chart careers, is to become a real song doctor - with a honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University, writes Graham Walker.

The city-based producer and songwriter will join author Marina Lewycka, artistic director Daniel Evans and artist George Shaw to receive the university’s top honour.

They are being honoured for their respective achievements in the world of music, literature, art and theatre in Sheffield, as well as nationally and internationally.

Grammy and Ivor Novello Award winner Eliot’s contribution to music is phenomenal.

He produced the first Spice Girls album in Sheffield and he is responsible for some of the biggest chart hits of the past two decades. 

He has worked with many big names in the music industry and most of the recording takes place at his studio in Sheffield where he has written for and produced hits for, amongst others, Bryan Adams, Take That, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion and comedian Peter Kay.

Eliot was Producer for Artist Development on last year’s X Factor and more recently he co-produced the Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee song, Sing, with his best pal, Take That’s Gary Barlow.

His Sheffield-based One Song Foundation venture harnesses the power of music to create positive change in communities around the world. Sell out concerts at Sheffield’s City Hall and O2 Academy have raised more than £20,000 and donations have been made to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity ,Cavendish Cancer Care and to a number of homeless support projects in South Yorkshire.

He told his Twitter followers: “So... I am a Doctor! I have been honored with a doctorate. Truly Honored and amazed and feel blessed!”

Eliot, speaking to The Star, added: “They said I was to be honored with a doctorate...honored isn’t a big enough word to describe the feeling.

“Actually my first emotion was one of guilt. Students have to study for years for their doctorates and here I am being given one. “I am not one to spend too much time looking back at my career, but I guess this is one of those occasions where I have to take stock of what I have achieved and experienced. I am so thankful to Graham Walker and the Sheffield Star for their support. Sue Pearce at HSBC bank and of course Sheffield Hallam Uni for this wonderful gift. Honored is the right word. I truly am.”

Marina, who lives in Sheffield, is a former journalism lecturer at the university whose debut novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, has sold more  than a million copies.

This was followed by two more big-selling novels, Two Caravans in 2007 and We Are All Made of Glue in July 2009. Her new book, Various Pets Alive and Dead, was published in March and launched at an event at the University, which also celebrated her retirement from lecturing.

Marina was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946 and moved to England with her family when she was about a year old.

She said: “I’m enormously proud and grateful to Sheffield Hallam for having given me the opportunity to be both an academic and an author.”

Daniel Evans became artistic director of Sheffield Theatres in 2009. Since then he has developed an award winning programme that has attracted some of the best known names in theatre, and produced sell-out productions of both Hamlet and Othello, making Sheffield Theatres one of the most successful theatres in the UK.

Daniel trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is an accomplished musical theatre actor having won a Laurence Olivier Award for his role Merrily We Roll Along. He debuted as a director in 2005 with a double-bill of Peter Gill plays, while a year later he directed a Welsh-language production of the play Esther.

George Shaw was a student at Sheffield Polytechnic and was shortlisted for the 2011 Turner Prize. His work is gritty and contemporary with deserted urban landscapes, run-down estates, bus stops, muddy lanes and empty football pitches. He is most well known for his series of paintings of the Tile Hill Estate in Coventry, where he grew up.

He is regularly lauded as one of the country’s most accomplished artists having already achieved a significant reputation. A retrospective of his work was held at the Baltic Gallery in Gateshead last year.

They join a distinguished and expanding group, many of whom are willing to support the University as ambassadors, presenters at workshops and inspirational figures to existing and potential students.

Sheffield Hallam University will be awarding honorary doctorates to a number of key figures from the worlds of sport, business, the arts and other industries in its 2012 graduation ceremonies, ta kingplace in November at Sheffield City Hall.