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Frances Elizabeth Taylor: Dancer, Actress, Muse

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Frances Taylor at the Miles Davis exhibit Frances Taylor While watching the PBS documentary on the life of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis ( Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool ), I was very interested in the interview with dancer Frances Taylor, to whom Davis was married from 1959 to 1968. After doing some research, I learned that Frances Taylor was the first African-American ballerina to perform with the Paris Opera Ballet. She was a member of the Katherine Dunham Company, had roles in the Broadway musicals Mr. Wonderful , Shinbone Alley , and was an original cast member of West Side Story . Taylor also appeared in the Off-Broadway productions of Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess .  While working on Broadway, she was credited as Elizabeth Taylor because there was already an actress named Frances Taylor, so she used her middle name. Frances Taylor and Leonard Bernstein Frances Taylor was a  member of the original cast of  West Side Story , working alongside Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, and

Matthew Kennedy 100th Birthday Celebration March 10th

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Join us as we pay homage to  American classical pianist, professor, choral director, composer, and arranger of Negro Spirituals Matthew Kennedy , who was born March 10, 1921 in Americus, Georgia. We will be posting links to his recordings, articles, and film clips as part of his 100th birthday celebration. As a young boy, Matthew Kennedy sat in the segregated audience for a live concert given by famed Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. He decided to become a pianist himself after that concert. Soon afterwards, he and his mother traveled to New York City at apply for study at the Juilliard School, for which he won a scholarship as a result of imitating Rachmaninoff's playing style. After graduating from the Juilliard Preparatory Division, he entered Fisk University as a freshman and served as piano accompanist for the Fisk Jubilee Singers under then-director Mrs. James A. Myers. He traveled the world with the group performing several solo pieces on their programs, thu

Susan Seltzer: Patroness, Partner, Spirit

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  Susan Seltzer in her office at Met Life On this day in 1990 at 2:13 am., Susan Seltzer passed away. She was thirty-three years old. Two and-a-half years earlier, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. After six weeks of radiation therapy, and then six months of chemo therapy, she lost her battle with cancer, and took her last breath while holding my hand.     Susan Seltzer was born in Yonkers, New York to Evelyn and Herman Seltzer. The family soon moved to New City, New York, where she went to high school. Susan attended Union College in upstate New York, and then transferred her credits at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where her classes were conducted in Hebrew, in which she was fluent. Her father was a V.P. at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and enabled her to have her first job as a Systems Programmer. Herman Seltzer was quite successful in his own right as an originator of the first IBM Mainframe computer, which is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Susan

Raphael Warnock Quotes Howard Thurman

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Senator Raphael Warnock At the end of Inauguration Day, I heard the new Georgia Senator the Reverend Raphael Warnock being interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. At one point in the interview, Rachel pointed out how some Republicans had tried to hold Warnock's religion against him. As part of his response, he quoted the words of American philosopher and theologian  Howard Thurman: " By some amazing but vastly creative spiritual insight the slave undertook the redemption of a religion that the master had profaned in his midst."   The words went by so fast that I had to pause and rewind, and listen to it several times.  While contemplating these words, I thought of how slave owners had used biblical text to encourage passivity and obedience in their slaves. The church was the only legal gathering place for slaves, precisely  for that purpose. So how were formerly enslaved people able to claim this religion after emancipation? I do have a rather unique perspective as I was f