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Prolific Musician John Munson Delivers 2016 McNally Smith Commencement Address

Spring Commencement took place at McNally Smith College of Music on Saturday, April 23, and featured keynote speaker John Munson — best known as the bassist of popular Twin Cities alt-rock bands Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare.

Munson addressed a capacity crowd —  including a graduating class of 62 students representing 8 countries — at the History Theatre in downtown St. Paul. With the unexpected passing of international pop star and Twin Cities music icon Prince just two days prior, Munson decided to scrap his original speech. He instead delivered an inspiring message focused on the music and life lessons he learned from Prince’s singular talent, unique artistic vision and peerless work ethic.

Watch Munson’s speech below.

About John Munson

John Munson is a talented bass player and songwriter, best known for his work in the multi-platinum-selling hit band Semisonic. In 1999, the Grammy Association nominated the group’s famous song, “Closing Time,” for Song of the Year. While it was Semisonic that put Munson in front of large audiences and national attention, prior to that he performed locally with his fellow Semisonic bandmate, Dan Wilson, in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s Twin Cities’ cult favorite, Trip Shakespeare, in which he wrote, sang and played bass.

John Munson 2Photo: Nick Wosika

Never slowing down, John continues to be deeply involved in music. During the run of the incredibly popular, critically acclaimed, weekly national radio broadcast and live show, Wits, at the Fitzgerald Theatre, John served as music director and provided entertaining commentary. He has collaborated with his former Trip Shakespeare band mate, Matt Wilson, on new songs with The Flops. His projects include founding and playing bass with jazzy revisionists The New Standards and his latest rock group, The Twilight Hours. Munson also teaches the Sound for Image class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Munson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and children. He can be seen regularly in the Twin Cities performing with his various projects.