September 24, 2023

Felton Pilate and Michael Cooper of Con Funk Shun have a new accomplishment to add to their glowing resumes. The musicians have received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from the Christian Bible Institute under the direction of Dr. Tony V. Lewis. Pilate and Cooper were surprised with the distinction during an intimate event celebrating Pilate’s 70th birthday.

“I felt confusion, shock, and disbelief when it became clear what was happening. I had to turn my back to the audience for a moment to try to control and hide the tears, it didn’t work, I was overwhelmed with emotion,” shared Pilate.

“I was completely caught off guard at the presentations and the preparation for the event that I thought was only a birthday celebration for Felton. It turned out to be far more than I could have imagined. To be presented with a Doctorate degree for my contributions to music was completely overwhelming to me,” added Cooper.

Felton Pilate Michael Cooper Con Funk Shun Doctorates

According to a press release, this special doctorate is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves through humanitarian and philanthropic contributions to society. Both Pilate and Cooper were also awarded Presidential Lifetime Achievement Awards for their lifetime of service through music and more.

“Sharing what I’ve learned on both sides of the recording console has always felt like what’s supposed to happen. I believe that it is our responsibility to give back as much as we can,” remarked Pilate.

“The title of Doctor will take some time to get used to. Receiving the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award signed by Joseph R. Biden was unbelievable and overpowering,” shared Cooper.

Felton Pilate Michael Cooper Con Funk Shun Doctorates

Moshe Lewis, Desirae L. Benson, Jennifer Pilate, Felton Pilate, Michael Cooper, Marion Cooper, and Dr. Kenneth Curry

Credit Donna Dymally

The birthday celebration billed as “An Intimate Evening with Felton Pilate” was put together by Pilate’s wife Jennifer. The affair was held in the Clive Davis Theater inside the Grammy Museum and included a red carpet and celebrity guests.

Clifton Moseley featured a music video tribute to Pilate highlighting the numerous songs he has written for Con Funk Shun. He and Pilate also sat down for an interview discussing the musician’s decades of work.

Janice Marie Johnson of the group Taste of Honey, Michael Cooper, and Pilate and his wife all performed during the event, with Felton previewing new music from Con Funk Shun’s upcoming holiday album.

Check out video footage from the affair below.

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