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Former Campbellsville University Board of Trustees Member Receives Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts

Former Campbellsville University Board of Trustees Member Receives Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts
James “Buzz” Cason, known as the “father of Nashville Rock,” received an honorary doctorate of musical arts by, from left, Dr. Michael V. Carter, president; Cason; Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Henry Lee, chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees; and Dr. Tony Cunha, dean and associate professor of music. (CU Photo by Ariel C. Emberton)

By Ian McAninch, student intern writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – James E. “Buzz” Cason, regarded as “the Father of Nashville Rock” received an Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts at Campbellsville University’s graduate commencement ceremony Friday, May 3.

In his address to the graduates, their families, faculty, staff and coaches, Dr. Michael V. Carter recognized Cason and said, “The greatest honor and recognition given by a university is that of the honorary doctorate degree. The honorary degree is given to those individuals who have displayed excellence in leadership, made extraordinary contributions to humanity and distinguished themselves in their respective professional fields.”

Cason has had a large role in the music industry over the last five decades, and Carter acknowledged his many highlights. “Buzz has been ‘living the rock and roll dream’ since the 1950s, when he formed The Casuals, Nashville’s first rock and roll band,” he said.

“In addition to a solo career under the name ‘Garry Miles’ and four recent album releases of original material and tributes, Buzz has been a successful vocalist behind superstars, such as Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty and Kenny Rogers.

“Through partnerships with Leon Russell, Buzz formed Rising Songs, Russell-Cason Music and Elf publishing and recording companies. It was from this association that the song ‘Everlasting Love’ was co-written and recorded, in addition to countless other hits written, published and produced in their studios.”

Carter said Cason later founded his own two-studio recording facility, “Creative Workshop,” which was the start of the Berry Hill Music Scene. Creative has recorded material for Dolly Parton, Jimmy Buffet, Merle Haggard and The Judds.

“Buzz Cason’s discography spans over 62 years,” Carter said. He has had his songs recorded by countless artists in the rock and roll, pop and country music industries, including The Beatles, Pearl Jam, U2, Jimmy Buffett and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

In 2006, Carson released an autobiography titled “Living the Rock and Roll Dream.” He was nominated to the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2005, inducted into the Nashville Public School Hall of Fame in 2006, was honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame in their “Poets and Prophets” series, and is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.”

Cason’s influence at Campbellsville University comes from his eight years serving on the Board of Trustees and taking time for students by “conducting various workshops and hosting students in Nashville, reaching out to encourage, and pour into, our music department.”

Carter applauded Cason for being “A strong, Christian leader, and an active member of the Baptist church,’ as well as having ‘served in ministry as a deacon and a youth leader,’ as ‘a leader in men’s ministry, community Bible studies, and having spearheaded a Nashville metro ministry called “Giving In Faith Together.”

Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.