Chadra Pittman and Michelle Brown Present Nina Kennedy's Virtual Book Launch

On Saturday March 19th, Chadra Pittman, founder and executive director of The Sankofa Projects, and Michelle Brown, founder and host of the weekly podcast Collections by Michelle Brown, presented a Zoom Event called "A Conversation with World Renowned Pianist, Filmmaker and Conductor NINA KENNEDY as she launches her 2nd book and talks about the women who shaped her life." People from all over the country joined the Zoom meeting, during which Nina read from her two books Practicing for Love and Practice What You Preach.

After a screening of the video of Nina's performance of Schumann's "Widmung," the discussion opened with an homage to Ella Sheppard, matriarch of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers founded in 1871. The Singers toured to raise money for the fledgling Fisk Free Colored School, known today as Fisk University. Nina's parents met when they were students at Fisk, and she stated that she probably would not be here today had it not been for Fisk University.

She then went on to honor Marian Anderson, who was a dear friend of Nina's maternal grandmother Nina Clinton and her mother Anne Gamble. Other women named by Nina included her first piano teacher Enid Katahn, songstress Roberta Flack who invited her to practice on her nine-foot concert grand piano in her apartment at the Dakota in exchange for piano lessons, and author of the groundbreaking novel Loving Her Ann Allen Shockley who wrote the quote that appears on the cover of Nina's new book.

Other literary figures mentioned included Toni Morrison, whom Nina first met in Paris when Morrison spoke at the Sorbonne. Afterwards, Nina accompanied Toni back to her car and they shared a boisterous chat about the Fisk Jubilee Singers - whom she heard while she was a student at Howard University - and the documentary film Nina was producing. The two would meet again several years later at Barnes & Noble where Nina was able to give her a DVD of her film, and ask her for a quote.

Regarding her personal life, Nina expressed gratitude for her first partner Susan Seltzer, whom she credits with making it possible for her to live in New York. She also acknowledged her second partner Gerda Neurauter, who helped make it possible for her to live in Vienna, Cologne, and Paris.

To close the event, Nina related the story of presenting erotic readings in the women's clubs in New York, and being approached by a producer at HBO who asked to produce a short film on her work. That film premiered at the Berlinale, and was screened at international film festivals across the globe. Then she read a short, steamy, erotic passage from the new book, which had listeners fanning themselves and blotting their brows with handkerchiefs. 

We are grateful to Chadra Pittman and Sankofa Projects for hosting the event, and for including INFEMNITY Productions in the promotion. She is also the founder and executive director of 4 E.V.E.R. (End Violence End Rape in the 4 corners of the Earth!), which was also listed as a sponsor.

A big thank you also goes to Michelle Brown for her poignant and soul-searching questions.


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