Scholars at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have debuted an interactive website that chronicles what is believed to be among the earliest examples of the music of the African diaspora. The website Musical Passage tells the story of an important, but little known record of early African diasporic music.
The project focuses on two pages of sheet music from Hans Sloane’s 1707 Voyage to the Islands of Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica It is believed to be the first transcription of African music in the Caribbean, and possibly, in the Americas.
The project was created by Mary Caton Lingold, a doctoral candidate in English at Duke, Laurent Dubois, a professor of Romance studies and history at Duke, and David K. Garner, a composer with Ph.D. from Duke who has been hired as an assistant professor of music at the University of South Carolina.
Lingold says that “you’d be hard pressed to name a living genre of music that enslaved musicians didn’t help to create or transform. Jazz, country, rock, blues, reggae and the list goes on. Turn on the radio and you are hearing these musicians’ story. But we don’t know a lot about their early music because it was not preserved in conventional ways. And that is why a little artifact like this is so important, because it helps us to know more about what their performances may have sounded like.”
article by Michael Cooper and David Gelles via nytimes.com
Robert F. Smith, the private equity titan who was named the richest African-American man by Forbes last year after making a fortune in software, also has a quirky musical side.
He owns one of Elton John’s old pianos. He hired John Legend and Seal — and a youth orchestra — to perform at his wedding last summer on the Amalfi Coast. His youngest sons, Hendrix and Legend, are named after Jimi Hendrix and Mr. Legend. And he bought and refurbished a retreat in the Rocky Mountains that was beloved by jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington.
On Thursday, Mr. Smith’s intersecting worlds of money, philanthropy and music came together when he was named the chairman of Carnegie Hall, the nation’s most prestigious concert stage. He became the first African-American to hold the post at a time when diversity at leading cultural organizations lags — a recent survey of New York’s cultural institutions found that nearly 78 percent of their board members were white.
“Carnegie Hall is perfectly placed to champion not only artistic excellence, but also access and exposure to the best music in the world,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.
The election of Mr. Smith, 53, who played an old upright piano while growing up in Denver and was told that with enough practice he might make it to Carnegie one day, brings to an end a low moment at the hall. The billionaire Ronald O. Perelman served as its chairman for less than a year before stepping down last fall after he alienated the board by clashing with the hall’s executive and artistic director, Clive Gillinson.
After shunning the spotlight for years, Mr. Smith, who is based in Austin, Tex., where the private equity firm he founded, Vista Equity Partners, has its headquarters, has recently taken a more public role — starting a foundation, the Fund II Foundation; giving commencement addresses; and donating money. His alma mater, Cornell University, renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering for him earlier this year after he announced a $50 million gift.
Unlike Carnegie’s most recent chairmen, Mr. Perelman and Sanford I. Weill, the former Citigroup chairman, Mr. Smith does not come from the world of New York finance, and he has not been a major fixture on the city’s social scene — he is more known for flying in to attend events in the city and then flying out. But his work outside the city with investors and tech firms could provide entree to new potential donors in the coming years.
The Maryland Senate voted on Thursday in favor of removing lyrics connected to the Confederacy from their state song, The Washington Post reports.
The 38-to-8 decision occurred Thursday after debate about the song, “Maryland, My Maryland.” It was penned by James Ryder Randall in 1861 following the death of his friend, who was shot while protesting against Union troops. The lyrics represent the anger Randall felt towards the North and calls on Marylanders to join the South’s battle against the Union.
Lyrics from the song (including those calling Northerners “scum”) will be replaced with a poem by John T. White about the state’s appearance and natural beauty.
“I think it’s time to get rid of the verse that basically criticizes and makes us look bad,” said Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick). “The [song] is degrading to Maryland and should not represent us moving forward.”
However, Sen. Robert G. Cassilly (R-Harford) said Maryland should use the opportunity as a teaching lesson, instead of erasing bad moments from history.
Listen to “Maryland, My Maryland” by clicking here and read the poem here.
Fox’s “Empire” may be headed on its midseason break after a couple of more episodes, but the network hopes to keep its Wednesday timeslot warm by slotting a holiday music and variety special hosted by the show’s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard.
The network announced Monday that “Taraji and Terrence’s White Hot Holidays,” featuring a special duet by Henson and Howard and modern performances of classic holiday songs, has been set for Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 9. Among the entertainment superstars scheduled as guests and musical performers are Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Jamie Foxx.
“Empire” is broadcast television’s No. 1 series this fall in adults 18-49, averaging a 6.8` rating in the demo and 16.7 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates. The show is scheduled to exit the airwaves after its Dec. 2 midseason finale, and won’t return until March 30.
“White Hot Holidays” is produced by Casey Patterson Entertainment, Don Mischer Productions, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and Vincent Cirrincione.
A live band rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly is in high demand, and you’d have to look no further than Kendrick Lamar‘s performances on Stephen Colbert‘s shows to know why.
Lamar has been performing cuts live with a backing track, but that changes for one day later in October. The star will perform To Pimp A Butterfly songs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on October 20, according to the Washington Post. Nas performed with the orchestra last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.
(From left) Lauren, 11, Ashleigh, 10 and Christian Conner, 9 (Photo via people.com)
Lauren, Ashleigh and Christian Conner have been studying music since they were toddlers. Violinists and a cellist, the trio of siblings has long had a heart for music. But when they moved to New York from New Jersey last year and saw the number of homeless people in the city’s streets, they realized they had a heart for much more.
“I saw [the homeless people] on the street and I felt sad for them,” Christian, 9, tells PEOPLE.
The three moved from Sussex County in October with their parents, Zenobia and Keith Conner. Zenobia says that from the moment the family got to the city, Christian wanted to help.
She tells PEOPLE that the young cellist would repeatedly ask her for money to give to the less fortunate and, after awhile, she said, “If you want to give some money to the homeless, then go out there and play your cello.”
And play he did. Christian and his sisters, 10-year-old Ashleigh and 11-year-old Lauren (both violinists), decided to take to the Fulton Street subway station to play music with hopes of raising enough money to give to the less fortunate. To see video of these amazing siblings busking, click here.
Talented Young Conner Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless (photo via people.com)
Last week, the three siblings set up their music stands in a corner of the bustling station. Ashleigh tells PEOPLE that on their first day, they played for two hours and raised a little more than $240. The three play works by composers like Beethoven, Bach and Karl Jenkins as onlookers in the station watch in amazement.