Lowri Marie and Nina Kennedy Perform in Harlem

Nina Kennedy and Lowri Marie performing at the Salvation Army Harlem Temple Corps

Sunday morning, February 18th, soprano Lowri Marie and pianist Nina Kennedy were presented in what was called a “Black History Moment” at the Salvation Army Harlem Temple Corps, 540 Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City. During the regular Sunday service, Lowri Marie sang the Spiritual Bye and Bye, arranged by Edward Boatner, accompanied by Nina Kennedy on piano. The congregation was then treated to clips from the documentary film Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey, produced and directed by Nina Kennedy, about her father’s life and work as director of the internationally acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Nina Kennedy introducing clips from Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey

Envoy Kenneth Burton had specifically requested a short clip of this film because he wanted some of the younger members of the congregation to be exposed to the history of Fisk University and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. After the screening, Nina gave an homage to her father by performing a Prelude by Sergei Rachmaninoff, since her father had heard the famous Russian pianist perform live in Macon, Georgia when he was a boy. (It was that concert in 1932 which persuaded the young Matthew to pursue a career as a pianist.) 

To close, Lowri Marie returned to sing the aria “Vissi d’arte” from the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini. They received a standing ovation and shouts of “Bravo!” from the most appreciative crowd. I’m sure some of the children who were present will never forget the day the opera singer and the piano player came to their church. One little girl was so moved that she began to sing her own version of an operatic aria when Lowri finished singing.

Envoy Burton applauding Lowri Marie and Nina Kennedy

Following the presentation, one of the pastors revealed that during his youth in Zimbabwe, he had been told about the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee in America, and was especially moved to see this footage of the group and hear their soul-stirring Spirituals. He thanked God for this moment.

Pastor Watch
The sermon that morning was presented by Pastor Lieutenant Emeline Watch titled “This Path We’ve Chosen.” The paths of Lowri Marie and Nina Kennedy have crossed in a way that comes close to full circle, as they first met when Lowri was a student at Fisk and a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers under Nina’s father’s direction. Now that Lowri has decided to return to the concert stage and has sought Nina out to serve as her accompanist, that these women were able to share their artistry with a church congregation in Harlem was most gratifying, and inspiring. After the service, a senior congregant said to Nina, "I feel like I'm at Lincoln Center!"
Stay tuned as the duo takes their concerts to larger venues in New York, Florida, North Carolina, and Italy.
Nina Kennedy's hands


Popular posts from this blog

Khatia Buniatishvili: Beyoncé of Piano?

Don Shirley, "Green Book," and Me

Where Was James Baldwin's Boyfriend?

Anne Gamble Kennedy (Not to be found on Wikipedia!)

Juilliard Covers Its Ass

Bradley Cooper's "Maestro": Ho-Hum! Another Movie About White People

Love, Like Music: A Review of Nina Kennedy's "Practicing for Love: A Memoir" by Dean and Petra Aldrich

The Fisk Jubilee Singers at the Kennedy Center