Merle Ronald HaggardMerle Ronald Haggard

Country Music Singer/Songwriter​

California State University, Bakersfield

Merle Ronald Haggard is a country music living legend. His music and lyrics have helped shape the world of country music and have influenced other music genres for five decades. His body of work includes more than 600 recorded songs, including 250 originals, 70 feature albums, 40 No. 1 hits, and scores of Top 10 hits. He remains one of the best known, most covered, and, arguably, the single-most influential singer-songwriter in country music history.

Mr. Haggard is a champion of working-class virtues and the dignity of the common man. His honest, authentic lyrics speak of plain folk, poverty, patriotism and pride. Born in Oildale, California, living in a converted boxcar, he paid his dues for a misdirected youth after the death of his father, and found his way back to a life of extraordinary achievement through his music. He embodies one's ability to rise above circumstance, course correct, and find redemption.

His accolades include six Country Music Association and 15 Academy of Country Music awards, including both organizations' Entertainer of the Year awards, and two Grammy Awards. He was elected to the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2008, a portion of 7th Standard Road near Bakersfield's Meadows Field airport was renamed Merle Haggard Blvd. In 2009, CSU Bakersfield celebrated him in "Oildale and Beyond: Interpreting the Region through Words, Images, and Music," a conference in conjunction with the Oildale Centennial. He is a 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree and is featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's exhibit, "The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country." In 2014, CSUB again will honor him in a year-long celebration of the cultural legacy of the Dust Bowl Migration, aptly named "Proud to be an Okie: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath."

In recognition of his extraordinary achievement in the indigenous genre of country music; his preeminence in his field; his influence on generations of country music artists; his role as an emissary for his part in disseminating "The Bakersfield Sound" worldwide; and his service to California State University, Bakersfield, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Bakersfield are proud to confer upon Merle Ronald Haggard the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.