Usher and Other Bennie and Candle Honorees Give Advice to Morehouse Students

Date Released: February 20, 2017


In order to grow as an artist, or an individual in any field, a person must seek information, said R&B star Usher Raymond during Saturday’s Reflections of Excellence discussion at Morehouse College.

“Ask questions,” he said. “The reality is if you don’t ask the question, you’ll never get to the solution or the answer.  Give yourself the opportunity to have the information.  Ask the question.”

That was one of many pieces of advice that Raymond, Warner/Chappell Music Chairman/CEO Jon Platt, the Rev. Jonathan L. Walton ’96 and his classmate Theodore Colbert III ’96, chief information officer and senior vice president of Information and Analytics at The Boeing Company, had for students and others in the event held at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center’s Emma and Joe Adams Concert Hall.

Each year, Reflections of Excellence gives the Bennie and Candle Award honorees the opportunity to tell students about their career paths, successes and failures and advice for the future.

“This morning’s program is a special feature of our Founder’s Day celebration and gives you an opportunity to hear from our honorees,” said President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79. 

Moderated by CBS-Atlanta 46 anchor Amanda Davis, the discussion delved into topics such as inspirations, career low points and what drives each one.

“For a long time, I never in my career wanted to be known as the black anything,” said Platt. “I wanted them to judge me like they judged others. But recently, I started to think on that. I think a little bit differently now. I think ‘why not?’ Because one day, I will be the most senior black person in the music industry. So while I’m here, I should show you guys what that looks like and do a great job because one day it’ll be one of you. So rather than 20 years from now and saying ‘he’s not doing that right’ or ‘he’s not conducting that right,’ I should show you that now and share my story. And that’s what drives me now.”

Colbert said his father’s death was a low point that became a daily motivator.

“It was a low point because it was at a point where I was starting to understand what fatherhood was about,” he said. “It actually served as a pivot point to dedicate myself to living out his dream of my own success, hard-work and service to others. And I use that as a motivation every single day.”

Among many other things, Walton, who is the Pusey Minister at the Memorial Church at Harvard University, told students that they shouldn’t be wedded to plans they’ve laid out for their futures.

“Don’t pay so much attention to what you want to be professionally,” he said to nods from the other panelists. “Don’t get locked into that.  Focus on what you want to contribute to the world. You may find out that what you wanted to do is not the profession that you wanted in order to fulfill that.”

Last Modified: January 4, 2018, 11:01 AM, by: Synera Shelton

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