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UK varsity to honour India-born singer

The University of Leicester will award Engelbert Humperdinck the honorary degree of Doctor of Music this month.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 13:39 IST

The University of Leicester in Britain will award Engelbert Humperdinck, an India-born internationally renowned singer and charity worker, the honorary degree of Doctor of Music this month.

University sources said that Humperdinck would be one of the four nationally and internationally acclaimed people to be honoured this year.

The other three are: Revd Alan Race, Professor Sir John Enderby, President of the Institute of Physics, and David Campton, playwright.

On Humperdinck, Stewart Petersen, head of medical education at the University of Leicester, said: "Honorary degrees are a recognition of distinction - and there is no doubt Engelbert is a man of distinction. He is one of Leicester's most famous sons and has made a huge contribution, both to popular music and entertainment and through his work with charities.

"Staff are impressed that such a superstar has retained his local links and is so involved with his local community and university."

Humperdinck was quoted as saying in a press release: "I have visited the university on a number of occasions and attended lectures and dinners. I have a particular interest in medical research at the university, especially in tuberculosis - a disease I contracted myself at the age of 23 years, some years after I had served my Queen and Country in the British Army in Germany.

"I am extremely proud to be receiving this honour. It gives me immense pleasure. This is the first honour I have received from my own city and indeed the country and to be honoured by the University of Leicester has given me a massive boost."

Born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras in colonial India, where his father was in the British army, Humperdinck was one of 10 children. His mother was a singer and violinist. When he was 10, his family moved to Leicester, where he was brought up.

At the age of 11 he began to study the saxophone until he discovered his singing voice in a club contest, when he was 17. He took the name of the 19th century composer of Hansel and Gretel in 1965 at the suggestion of his manager.

Humperdinck is well known for his charity work and has an international reputation as a singer with almost 40 years in the music industry. His single Release Me sold 80,000 copies per day and was in the Charts for 56 weeks.

The extent of his fame can be judged by the 130 million records he has sold, the 70 Gold and 23 Platinum Albums he has to his name and the 250 branches or chapters of fan clubs set up in his honour worldwide.

He has his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has recently published an autobiography entitled What's in a Name.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 12:46 IST