Florence Welch, Florence + the Machine Singer, Receives Honorary Degree From London’s University of the Arts

Florence Welch
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Florence Welch was in tears on Wednesday, but for good reason -- the Florence + The Machine frontwoman was bestowed with an honorary degree from London's University of the Arts.

The 35-year-old British singer donned a cap and gown and even spoke at the ceremony, reminiscing about how attending art college "loomed very large" in her imagination well before giving it a try. Welch, whose mother attended Harvard and the Warburg Institute at the University of London, said in an emotional speech she was floored by the honor.

Welch also said in her speech that she started working at a bar after high school, much to her mother's chagrin. But she eventually did apply to the school's Camberwell College of Arts. She dropped out after a year but, again, for good reason -- it was to go all in with Florence + The Machine.

The rest, as they say, is history.

"Rather than applying for any universities at all, I just wanted to be in a band but at that point in my life there was really no band," she explained. "It was almost the imaginary. There was a lot of drinking. After a year of that and feeling increasingly lost, I tried to apply to art college. I'm so happy that they [accepted me]. I have to say, without the space to create and dream in that foundation year, and the structure and sanctuary it provided me, I would not be the artist I am today."

Welch encouraged the graduating class of 2022 to continue pursuing their dream as creatives because the world needs them.

"The essentialness of art can never be denied," she said. "It is a life-saving force, capable of making sense of the senseless and expressing the unexpressible. Please never forget that as you move out into the world. It needs artists now more than ever."

Welch's mother, Evelyn, took to Twitter and posted a photo of Welch sitting on stage in her entire graduation ceremony getup. 

"I don't usually tweet about my children but I wanted to celebrate Florence's honorary degree from #UAL today," she wrote. "She gave a moving speech on the importance of art colleges in creating structure and support for creativity. So proud of everything she has achieved."

Welch and her GRAMMY-nominated band have earned monumental success, beginning with its debut album, Lungs, in 2009. Most recently, Welch & Co. released its fifth studio album in May, Dance Fever, the group's fourth top-charting rock album on Billboard's list.


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