NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs is getting an honorary doctorate from Boston's Berklee College of Music.
Skaggs is slated to receive the honor Tuesday during a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, putting the 53-year-old singer in the company of luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Sting, B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie, Loretta Lynn and Paul Simon.
"I was elated," Skaggs told The Associated Press on Thursday. "It's a really, really amazing honor because many great musicians have come out of Berklee."
Berklee President Roger Brown said that by saluting Skaggs, "we shine a light on the present and future of bluegrass; its heritage and its infinite potential. And besides that, the man can pick."
A child prodigy, Skaggs began performing with his family and by 17 was playing with Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys. After stints in J.D. Crowe's New South and Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, he was regarded as one of the genre's finest young talents.
He switched to mainstream country in 1980 and scored 10 No. 1 hits between 1982 and '86, including "Highway 40 Blues," "Don't Cheat in Our Hometown" and "Country Boy."
In 1997, he returned to bluegrass, releasing "Bluegrass Rules!" on his newly formed record label, Skaggs Family Records. Since then, he's won a string of awards for his bluegrass recordings.
The latest for him and group Kentucky Thunder, "Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947," a selection of songs by Bill Monroe and his band, is due out March 25.