A flash mob surprised Leigh-Anne Pinnock before she collected her honorary doctorate from Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) last week.
The chart-topping pop singer and Little Mix star was being awarded for her successful music career as well as her active philanthropy, including co-founding The Black Fund – a charity to promote racial equality and anti-racism.
She returned to her hometown of High Wycombe and walked around BNU’s campus with The Repair Shop host Jay Blades before dance and performance students from the university did an impromptu dance for the 31-year-old to her debut single, ‘Don’t Say Love’.
— Daily Leigh-Anne. (@dailyLAPinnock) July 26, 2023
Last Wednesday (July 26), whilst accepting her honorary doctorate, Pinnock said: “Growing up, I must have walked past BNU’s High Wycombe campus a million times, curious about what was being studied and taught there. But in all that time I never imagined I’d be stood here today with an honorary doctorate in the arts.
“It’s such a privilege to be recognised by such a credible, creative, and supportive university so I am extremely happy and proud to be here today. And while I am blessed to have had a successful recording career, it is so rewarding that it’s my work as a campaigner for racial equality and anti-racism that is being recognised today. Alongside my music, this is a role that becomes more important to me every single day.”
Pinnock encouraged the students to believe in themselves and to “surround yourself with others who believe in you too” because with a lot of work and a bit of luck “your goals are achievable”.
The singer said: “In many ways, my story is one that I think mirrors many of the students’ experiences here today. It’s a story of a woman who had a passion, who had a goal that she thought might just be achievable. But it’s also a story of a woman who thanks to the support of her mentors and believers along with a lot of hard work and dedication, eventually got where she wanted to be.”
Leigh-Anne Pinnock accepted the honorary doctorate after a month after releasing ‘Don’t Say Love’, her dance–pop debut single that peaked at Number 11 on the UK Top 40. Now known as Leigh-Anne, she said the track “is about no longer seeking external validation and regaining my confidence and sense of self in a world where I often felt misunderstood and unheard.”
Pinnock gained fame as a part of Little Mix. They formed in 2011 and became one of the best-selling girl groups of all time by 2022, as well as one of the UK’s biggest-selling acts. They sold over 75 million records worldwide and earned six UK Platinum albums and over 15 billion streams.
The band’s original line-up included Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards. Nelson left the group in 2020 before Thirlwall, Edwards and Pinnock decided to go on hiatus and work on their solo endeavours last year.
Following the band announcing their “break” in 2021, Pinnock made her film debut in the Christmas movie, Boxing Day.