Read Joyce DiDonato’s inspiring Juilliard commencement speech

June 2, 2014

Star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gave the 2014 commencement address at Juilliard Friday — and it's a memorable one, both for her words and by DiDonato's own example as someone whose own career began under low heat.

DiDonato has posted the text of her speech on her own website, and it's well worth 10 minutes of your time, whether you're an aspiring artist or need a gentle reminder or two about creativity. Here, though, is the bullet-point version for an extra-quick boost:

  • You will never make it … "It" doesn't exist for an artist.
  • The work will never end … It will always be there for you — even if in some moments you lack the will to be there for it. All it asks is that you show up, fully present.
  • It's not about you … You may not yet realize it, but you haven't signed up for a life of glory and adulation.
  • The world needs you … We need you to help us understand that which is bigger than ourselves, so that we can stop feeling so small, so isolated, so helpless.

And if you're in a late-spring mood for even more inspiration, check out NPR's brilliant interactive list of graduation speeches, culling from 300 addresses — including two by Wynton Marsalis — going back to 1774. They are The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


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