Showing posts from May, 2021

Don Shirley, "Green Book," and Me

I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the Oscar-winning film Green Book , on the life of African American concert pianist Don Shirley . As I had written in an earlier blog ( "Ebony and Ivory: A Dissonant Truth" ), I had visited with Dr. Shirley in his apartment above Carnegie Hall when my parents were in New York with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The film gave a very accurate depiction of his home and the extravagant, ostentatious décor. The Real Don Shirley in his home Don Shirley was praised early in his life as a genius, a wunderkind whose forte was the traditional classical repertoire. Composer Igor Stravinsky said of him: "His virtuosity is worthy of Gods." But his record label forced him to play jazz, and sent him on tour with a jazz trio. In an interview, Shirley said that his record label wanted him to appear in overalls with a red bandana around his neck on the album cover. He refused. In my own book I have written about facing racism as an African Am

Nina Kennedy Invited to Present Lecture/Book Signing at Juilliard

As you may have read last month (in my blog  "Juilliard Covers Its Ass" ), I was very upset to learn of an auditory exercise conducted by the Juilliard Drama Division depicting scenes from slavery. Several students complained about this exercise, and posted some of the actual audio on Facebook and Instagram. The person who presented this workshop claimed that the intent of the exercise was to explore the origins of Negro Spirituals. The Fisk Jubilee Singers Anyone who knows me knows that my father directed the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who have been called the originators of the Negro Spiritual. In my  Lammy-nominated memoir ,  Practicing for Love , I wrote extensively about the history of the Jubilee Singers, and how their music had been utilized by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák in his Symphony from the New World. When I wrote the first blog, Juilliard had expressed no interest whatsoever in my book. Well, about a week after I sent an email of complaint to the Director of Alumni