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Showing posts from January, 2019

Tina Maria Dunkley at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery 1/16-3/16

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The Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba (219 E. 2nd Street in Manhattan) is presenting a wonderful exhibit titled "Sanctuary for the 'Internal Enemy': An Ancestral Odyssey" by artist Tina Maria Dunkley from now until March 16th. In this multimedia solo exhibition, Tina Maria Dunkley traces her maternal Trinidadian ancestry to the War of 1812.







In her artist's statement titled "...On the Battlefield till I Die," Tina Maria Dunkley wrote: "From the moment I learned about the maroon societies in the Western Hemisphere, their narratives of courageous resolve to overcome their oppressors captivated my attention.
"The Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia, Nanny of the maroons in Jamaica, the Haitian revolutionaries, and the hundreds of thousands of Quilombolas residing in the hinterlands across Brazil were alluring annals of resistance. To discover decades later that my family descends from comparable communities was a revelation. A letter describing the…

Marie Selika

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Marie Selika Williams (c. 1849 – May 19, 1937) was an American coloratura soprano. She was the first African-American artist to perform in the White House.


Marie Smith was born in Natchez, Mississippi, around 1849. After she was born her family moved to Cincinnati, where a wealthy family funded voice lessons for her. She moved to San Francisco in the 1870s and studied with Signora G. Bianchi. She then studied in Chicago with Antonio Farini, who taught the Italian method. There she met a fellow student, operatic baritone Sampson Williams, whom she would later marry.Marie Selika became the first African-American artist to perform in the White House in 1878. On November 18, she sang for President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes in the Green Room and was introduced by Frederick Douglass. Her performance included Verdi’s “Ernani, involami,” Thomas Moore’s “The Last Rose of Summer,” Harrison Millard’s “Ave Maria,” and Richard Mulder’s “Polka Staccato.” She performed at P…

Ebony and Ivory: A Dissonant Truth

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As some of you know, I am preparing for a Carnegie Hall concert in the near future; so recently my attentions have turned to other pianists who have enjoyed successful concert careers. While reading a biography of pianist/composer Clara Schumann*, I was filled with pangs of jealousy. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a shrewd businessman. He booked all of her concerts, negotiated her fees, and devoted himself to her publicity. Granted, little Clara didn't have much of a childhood; but neither did I. Her parents divorced when she was five, and her father demanded sole custody.


Clara's father owned and ran a piano dealership, and was determined that his daughter would be known throughout Europe as a wunderkind, as young Mozart had been. But Friedrich Wieck did not have to worry about being discriminated against because of his race. He was free to build his daughter's career however he imagined it. She was already a superstar long before she married composer Robert Schumann a…