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Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Booker T Jones, U.S. Ambassador David L. Carden to serve as IU Bloomington commencement speakers

April 11, 2012

NOTE: Broadcast-quality video clips of Booker T Jones from a fall 2011 visit to Bloomington, Ind., are available for media to view immediately at and to download (password: iuisredhot) at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Legendary soul musician Booker T Jones and David L. Carden, the United States' first resident ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be speakers at IU Bloomington commencement ceremonies next month. Both Jones and Carden are IU alumni.

Booker T. Jones

Booker T Jones

Print-Quality Photo

Jones, a Grammy Award-winning artist, songwriter, record producer and arranger and Jacobs School of Music alumnus, will receive an IU honorary doctorate of music at the 2012 undergraduate commencement exercises on Saturday, May 5, in Bloomington, Ind. The undergraduate ceremonies will be conducted in two sessions, one at 10 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., in Assembly Hall.

The only IU alumnus elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jones will address graduates along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie and a student speaker.

Carden, who officially began his ambassadorial assignment in April 2011 and previously was a partner at Jones Day, a leading international law firm, will address students receiving graduate degrees at IU Bloomington's graduate commencement ceremony on Friday, May 4, at Assembly Hall. The graduate commencement ceremony, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., is for all post-baccalaureate degree candidates.

Carden will also serve as the keynote speaker at a separate ceremony for graduates of the IU Maurer School of Law. The Maurer ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at IU Auditorium.

Ambassador David Carden

Ambassador David L. Carden

Print-Quality Photo

"All of us at Indiana University are extremely honored that these two remarkably distinguished alumni will address our graduates this spring," McRobbie said. "Booker T Jones and Ambassador David L. Carden come from very different fields, yet both share a trailblazing spirit, unyielding work ethic and strong belief in the power of education to achieve their highest ambitions. That they strengthened their skills and abilities here at IU and went on to achieve such exceptional success -- whether winning Grammy awards or litigating some of the largest and most important legal cases in the United States and overseas -- should serve to encourage, enlighten and inspire the university's newest class of graduates as they prepare to enter the global workforce."

"Booker T Jones and Ambassador David Carden are ideal speakers for this year's commencement ceremonies," IU Bloomington Interim Provost Lauren Robel said. "Both speakers have achieved the distinction of being 'firsts'; Booker T Jones is the first IU graduate to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Ambassador Carden is the first resident ambassador to ASEAN. An IU education, coupled with drive and integrity -- as our speakers demonstrate -- can help our graduates become the ethical leaders of our increasingly global society."

Booker T Jones

Booker T Jones is best known as the front man of Booker T and the MGs, widely considered the greatest soul band of all time, and for the distinctive Hammond organ sound he brought to his and other soul artists' hit singles.

Born in 1944 in Memphis, Tenn., Jones was a child music prodigy, playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, string bass, piano and organ. In 1962, while still in high school, he formed Booker T and the MGs and co-wrote the group's first national hit, "Green Onions," a song that remains an enduring classic. Widely featured on TV and in movies, "Green Onions" was ranked No. 183 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

On the brink of major stardom, Jones decided to pursue a college education at the IU Jacobs School of Music, earning a bachelor's degree in music education in 1967.

He credits his time at the IU Jacobs School with improving his listening and playing abilities and with opening a window on other cultures and sensibilities.

"Who would walk away from a life of stardom, the road, gigs, making money -- to go to college?" Jones has said. "An idiot, or a maverick. Whatever, I was less than popular among my contemporaries for this decision.

"Indiana had 24-hour access to their music library and I was always in there listening," he said. "I listened to a lot of French music, Claude Debussy. I listened to a lot of Russian music, a lot of Wagner and also British music, Italian music -- and explored the politics of Europe. The actual music can mean an emotion, they can be one and the same. A piece like 'Finlandia' by Sibelius, how does a man write that? His country has been taken and belongs to another country. When an artist can put an emotion in a piece of music and a listener feels the same emotion, then it's been transferred. That's just a real true thing that you can't touch."

While studying music composition in Bloomington, Jones returned to Memphis on weekends to play with the MGs, which served as the de-facto house band for the renowned Stax Records label for much of the 1960s.

During that time, Booker T and the MGs backed such celebrated soul music acts as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Albert King and Rufus and Carl Thomas, among other legendary names from the rosters of Stax and Atlantic Records.

Following the glory days of Stax, Booker T and the MGs officially disbanded in 1972 and Jones moved to California, joining A&M records as a staff producer. While at A&M, he produced Willie Nelson's classic 1978 album, "Stardust," featuring several songs by Bloomington's own Hoagy Carmichael. He also launched several successful solo albums and tours.

Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and was honored with a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2007.

Jones earned his first Grammy as a solo artist on the 2009 album "Potato Hole," which won for Best Pop Instrumental Album and featured the Drive-By Truckers with Neil Young playing guitar.

In 2011, Jones released "The Road From Memphis." The backing band included members of the band The Roots and featured vocals by Yim Yames, Matt Berninger, Lou Reed, Sharon Jones and Booker T himself, as well as lyrics contributed by his daughter Liv Jones.

In February, "The Road From Memphis" won at the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album. The Grammy award was Jones' fourth.

David L. Carden

Ambassador David L. Carden was sworn in as the United States' first resident ambassador to ASEAN in March 2011. He officially assumed his duty on April 26, 2011. Prior to being confirmed as ambassador, he was a partner at Jones Day, a leading international law firm.

At Jones Day, Carden most recently co-chaired the firm's Securities Litigation & SEC Enforcement Practice. In this role, he was responsible for representing clients in some of the largest securities fraud class actions ever litigated, including high-profile cases involving Lehman Brothers, Enron and AIG. In prior years, he also oversaw the firm's Intellectual Property Practice and Trial Practice in New York.

Carden has also been responsible for coordinating the defense of litigation brought in the courts of various foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands Antilles and Barbados. He has extensive experience conducting discovery in foreign countries and has defended and prosecuted claims and conducted investigations for and against entities in numerous countries, including Indonesia, Singapore, China, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

He has been recognized by Chambers, New York Super Lawyers and The New York Times "Super Lawyer Section" for his accomplishments in defending securities litigation.

Carden received his J.D. from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he serves on the Board of Visitors, and his B.A. from DePauw University. He and his wife, Rebecca Riley, have two adult children.

Additional commencement information

Doors for the May 4 graduate commencement ceremony will open at 1 p.m. The procession of graduates will begin at 2 p.m.

At the May 5 undergraduate commencement ceremony, doors will open at 8 a.m. and the procession of graduates will begin at 9 a.m. Doors for the afternoon ceremony will open at 1 p.m. and the procession will begin at 2 p.m.

There are no reserved seats at commencement ceremonies, but those people with special needs and those who need handicapped seating and parking should call University Ceremonies at 812-855-3762.

For complete information on commencement ceremonies at IU, visit

For information on the Maurer School of Law ceremony, visit