"Practicing for Love" is Finally Here!

After months of anticipation, Nina Kennedy's first book of memoirs titled Practicing for Love is finally here and available for purchase. You may order the book on Amazon here, or order directly from the publisher RoseDog Books here. Or, last but not least, order from our own website at

The book offers a black woman's perspective on the music industry in general, and the classical music industry in particular. Nina includes much information on the history of Fisk University, where her parents served on the faculty. There are tales of bullying resulting from a segregated, dysfunctional public school system. This country's racism practically destroys Nina's mother, who turns to alcohol for comfort. This is the environment in which Nina's sexuality buds and eventually blossoms.

When she came to New York to study at Juilliard, Nina worked as a live-in babysitter and was faced with unreasonable expectations placed upon her by her wealthy, white emp…

"The Noshing with Nina Show" Goes to Fisk University

Last October, The Noshing with Nina Show hit the road to Nashville, Tennessee, where Nina was scheduled to perform in the Fisk Jubilee Singers Alumni Heritage Awards concert at Fisk University. The day after the concert, Nina and former Fisk Jubilee Singer George Cooper sat down for a lively discussion in Jubilee Hall, the first permanent structure built in the United States for the purpose of educating freed slaves, with the profits from concerts given by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. George had studied piano with Nina's father, Matthew Kennedy, and sang with the Jubilee Singers while he was director.

Cooper is also the founder of the Ella Sheppard School of Music in Chicago, where students from nineteen months to sixteen years old can have music lessons free of charge. During their conversation, George stresses how important it is for young children to be exposed to music education, and how it positively affects their cognitive skills.

George and Nina also discuss the history of the F…

An Excerpt from "Practicing for Love: A Memoir" by Nina Kennedy

In the wake of the widely publicized sexual-abuse claims brought by violinist Lara St. John against the late Jascha Brodsky, her violin teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music (read the article here), I decided that it was time to share my own story of abuse that took place when I was a student there. 

The kinds of abuse I endured there were verbal and emotional. The perpetrator was clearly a racist, but I did not have the skills at the time to handle such abuse. It was devastating when it became clear to me that my teacher was not going to help me pursue a career, because a concert career was all I had ever imagined for myself. It had been my parents’ dream for me, and their mothers’ dreams of both of them. Little did I know that this one racist, elderly white woman set out to crush their dreams, and to destroy me in the process.
The year I auditioned to enter the Curtis Institute of Music there were three openings in the piano department, and seventy-two pianists came to audition for…

Conductor Débora Waldman on "The Noshing with Nina Show"

Orchestral conductor Débora Waldman is the special guest on The Noshing with Nina Show this month. You will see clips of an interview that was filmed in her home in Paris, along with clips of some of her performances conducting l'Orchestre National de France and l'Orchestre Idomeneo. 

A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Débora Waldman accompanied her family to Israel in a Kibbutz where she lived until the age of fourteen. She then pursued her musical studies in Buenos Aires, in the Universidad Católica de Argentina. She is the only student in the history of this university that has been awarded two golden medals, both in orchestra conducting and composition.

In 2002, she perfected her formation in Paris (where she lives) with Janos Fürst, and with F.X. Roth and M. Levinas in the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM).

Hailed as an energetic and profound young conductor, Débora Waldman was discovered by the Orchestre National de France and Maestro Kurt Masur in 2006. Subsequ…

Nina Kennedy Directs the Fisk Jubilee Singers in Master Class

In the 1960s, Matthew Kennedy arranged the spiritual "Steal Away" for the Fisk Jubilee Singers to perform. He served as director of the group intermittently from 1957 - when he was appointed by then director John W. Work III to succeed him - until his retirement in 1986. His arrangements of "Steal Away" and "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" were publish by Abingdon Press in 1974.

This month Kennedy's daughter Nina traveled to Fisk University to perform on the 4th annual Jubilee Heritage Awards Concert on October 5th. The concert was scheduled to coincide with Jubilee Day on October 6th, which marks the anniversary of the day when the original Fisk Jubilee Singers set out on their first concert tour to raise money for the school. Every year on that day, current Jubilee Singers, alumni and staff go on a pilgrimage to the graves of some of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers. One of the most moving moments of the weekend was when the current group of sin…

Daresha Kyi Wins Emmy

Congratulations to our own Daresha Kyi for winning the 2019 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Documentary Short category for her film Trans in America: Texas Strong.

We're so proud of you, Daresha!

Watch the trailer and read the Houston Chronicle article announcing the award here.


Contact: April Gibson, 646-853-3217

As part of the Jubilee Day celebrations at Fisk University next month, pianist Nina Kennedy will be performing in the Jubilee Heritage Award Concert at Fisk Memorial Chapel on Saturday October 5th at 7:00 pm. Rock and roll icon Little Richard is one of the honorees, as well as gospel personality Dr. Bobby Jones and hit maker Eddie "ET" Thomas.

Kennedy's father Matthew Kennedy was on the piano faculty at Fisk, and also served as director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers from 1957 to 1986 (intermittently). Her mother Anne Gamble was also a member of the piano faculty and served as piano accompanist for the group.

Nina Kennedy was presented in her first complete solo piano recital in Nashville at age nine. She made her debut as piano soloist with the Nashville Symphony at age thirteen in a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue before an audience of over 4,000. After graduating from McGavock High School, she left Nas…

An Homage to Dame Myra Hess

A continuation of our tales from Vienna...

One of the works performed and recorded by Nina Kennedy at the Bösendorfer Salon was the arrangement for solo piano of the Chorale from Cantata number 147 called "Jesu bleibt meine Freude," (loosely translated "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring") by Johann Sebastian Bach. That published arrangement was made by Dame Myra Hess, a world-renowned concert pianist and hero to the people of London because of the free afternoon concerts she organized and in which she performed at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square during the Second World War. Since there was an official black-out declared at the onset of the bombings by the Nazis, this meant that there were no evening concerts or gatherings because no lights could be turned on at night. Nearly 2,000 of these lunchtime concerts took place during the war, for six-and-a-half years.

For this contribution to maintaining the morale of the populace of London, King George VI proclaimed …



Contact: April Gibson, +1.646.853.3217

In 1900, Nina Hortense Clinton traveled from Ohio to the U.K. as a nineteen-year-old soprano with a group of "Fisk Jubilee Singers" under director Frederick Loudin. Their travels included tours of Ireland, Scotland, and Great Britain. She and the group were still in London in 1902 where they witnessed the coronation of King Edward VII.

Clinton's grandfather, James Beverly Lett, was a founder of the Lett Settlement near Zanesville, Ohio. His daughter, Celia Lett married Martin H. Clinton, an ice cream salesman. Nina was their only daughter. After her return from Europe, she eventually married Dr. Henry Floyd Gamble of Charleston, West Virginia. Their daughter, Anne Lucille Gamble, was also a pianist and served on the piano faculty at Fisk University, where she met and married Matthew Washington Kennedy, pianist and director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Their daughter Nina was a …

"The Noshing with Nina Show" in Vienna

As you may recall, in our last newsletter we announced that The Noshing with Nina Show would be spending the bulk of the month of August in Austria and Great Britain. Nina Kennedy in her role as concert pianist was invited to film a music video at the Bösendorfer Salon, which happens to be inside of the Musikverein building in the heart of Vienna.

Our gracious host, Vladimir Bulzan, was kind enough to sit down with us for a short interview on the history of Bösendorfer in Vienna, and to share some details on the beautiful Imperial Grand piano on which Nina performed. That instrument was the model owned and preferred by jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and Vladimir discovered later that afternoon that the day we were filming happened to be Oscar Peterson's birthday. Happy belated birthday, Oscar! You are our favorite jazz pianist.

Vladimir also pointed out the Bösendorfer model owned by Michael Jackson.

Nina and Vladimir also shared some insight on the life of composer Franz Schubert,…