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WATCH: Hamilton biographer raps for Lafayette grads

“Life … is less of a blueprint than an improvisation,” Ron Chernow told graduates.

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The most interesting lives have incredible plot twists.

Take Ron Chernow, for example. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, the keynote speaker at Lafayette College’s graduation Saturday in Easton, told students that it’s OK if they don’t have their lives planned out — he certainly didn’t at that age.

An aspiring novelist, he had avoided taking history courses in college, though that’s where he ultimately found his success more than a decade after graduating.

Lin-Manuel MirandaThis image released by The Public Theater shows Lin-Manuel Miranda, foreground, with the cast during a performance of “Hamilton,” in New York. (Joan Marcus/The Public Theater via AP) 

The college’s namesake, Marquis de Lafayette, a “rock star of the 18th Century,” Chernow said, “never could possibly have foreseen when he arrived here at the age of 19” that he would become a pivotal figure in the American and French revolutions.

And, of course, there’s the story of Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography of the “ten-dollar Founding Father” was the inspiration for the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton,” on which he consulted. As a gift to the Class of 2017, Chernow — playing all the characters — recited the show’s opening rap, which you can watch above (and, for fun, star Lin-Manuel Miranda performs it below).

PHOTOS: Lafayette College 2017 commencement

It was an unusual but entertaining conclusion to a commencement address (which you can hear in full on Lafayette’s website) that hit all the usual notes: follow your dreams and passions, be bold, beware of nay-sayers and be alert to “subtle hints of fate” that guide you.

“Life,” Chernow said early on, “is less of a blueprint than an improvisation; less a finished work of art than a work in progress; a high-wire act, not some stroll in the woods. … The unforeseen future lying in wait for you may actually be infinitely more exciting than anything you can possibly imagine today.”

Steve Novak may be reached at snovak@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

 

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