Chineke! Europe’s first professional orchestra of black and minority ethnic musicians launches

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-09-03 01:42Z by Steven

Chineke! Europe’s first professional orchestra of black and minority ethnic musicians launches

The Independent
2015-09-02

Jessica Duchen


Its founder double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku talks to Jessica Duchen

When the Chineke! Orchestra steps on to the Queen Elizabeth Hall platform on 13 September, the audience should notice something unusual. One of those uncomfortable truths about classical music is that most symphony orchestras in Europe still consist mostly of white and white-Asian people. Chineke, the brainchild of the double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, is Europe’s first professional orchestra made up entirely of black and minority ethnic musicians.

The idea is to bring together and showcase the wealth of talent among these under-represented performers. “It is about raising awareness, trying to level the playing field, altering the status quo a little bit and changing perceptions,” says Nwanoku.

Born in London to a Nigerian father and Irish mother, Nwanoku has been mulling over these issues for years, from her vantage point as a founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a popular media commentator and broadcaster, and a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Her recent programmes for BBC Radio 4, In Search of the Black Mozart, about the 18th-century violin virtuoso and composer the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, sparked wide interest in historical musicians of colour…

Read the entire article here.

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Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

Posted in Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-08-23 01:33Z by Steven

Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

The New York Times
2015-08-20

Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor

After Julian Bond’s death on Saturday, The Times published a lengthy and well-written obituary summing up the life and work of the civil rights champion. But many readers were bothered by a single sentence in the front-page article:

“Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”

Many readers wrote to me to protest the phrase, on the grounds that a slave, by definition, can’t be in the kind of consensual or romantic relationship that the word “mistress” suggests. One of them noted it wasn’t the first time the phrase had appeared in a Times obituary…

Read the entire article here.

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‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Posted in Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-22 01:13Z by Steven

‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Ohio State University
2014
284 pages

Noel Mellick Voltz

Doctor of Philosophy in History

In 1805, a New Orleans newspaper advertisement formally defined a new social institution, the infamous Quadroon Ball, in which prostitution and plaçage – a system of concubinage – converged. These balls, limited to white men and light-skinned, free “Quadroon” women, became an interracial rendezvous that provided evening entertainment and the possibility of forming sexual liaisons in exchange for financial “sponsorship.” At these balls, money and other forms of payment were exchanged for the connubial placement of free women of color with wealthy white men.

My dissertation entitled, “‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation Among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860” seeks to understand how free women of color used sex across the colorline as a tool of negotiation in various spaces, like the Quadroon Ballroom, in antebellum Louisiana. More specifically, utilizing contemporary travelers’ journals, newspapers, poems, songs, letters, notarial and ecclesiastical records, court cases and other legal documents, my dissertation examines the sexual agency exerted by Louisiana’s free women of color in four sites of contestation – the body, the ballroom, the courtroom and the sanctuary.

Free women of color occupied a precarious position in antebellum Louisiana, often subjugated because of their race, gender and class; yet, this very positioning also afforded them a space in which to maneuver socially and economically. I contend that in these literal and figurative spaces, these women drew upon their sexuality to make strategic claims to their freedom advancing themselves socially and economically. This work pushes the boundaries of current scholarship engaging questions of sexual agency and trauma, race and identity, hegemonic myth and cultural reappropriation. In so doing, I build upon and push beyond historiographic discussions of the fetishizing and fanticizing gaze of white men and the overly simplistic dichotomous images of the hypersexualized jezebel and the totally victimized yet “respectable” free woman of color. Ultimately, this research illuminates a more nuanced understanding of black female agency in the antebellum era.

For more information, click here.

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Othello’s Daughter

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2015-08-19 01:52Z by Steven

Othello’s Daughter

The New Yorker
2013-07-29

Alex Ross, Music Critic


Aldridge, circa 1865, and his daughter Luranah, a singer, in an undated image.
Credit Photographs by Billy Rose Theatre Division / The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Mccormick Library of Special Collections / Northwestern University Library

The rich legacy of Ira Aldridge, the pioneering black Shakespearean.

In 1896, a thirty-six-year-old opera singer named Luranah Aldridge travelled to Germany to prepare for performances of Wagner’sRing of the Nibelung,” at the Bayreuth Festival. Dozens of young singers had made such a journey before her: thirteen years after Wagner’s death, Bayreuth had become a summit of the operatic world. Aldridge, though, was of mixed race: an English native, she was the daughter of an African-American and a Swede. The casting of a nonwhite performer in Wagner’s Nordic-Teutonic saga might have been expected to arouse opposition, given the notorious racism of the composer and many of his followers, yet an advance guide to the 1896 festival treats Aldridge simply as a promising novelty:

A name that may well ring strangely in the ears of even the most observant art lovers is that of Luranah Aldridge, who will sing one of the eight Valkyries. Of Luranah Aldridge one cannot say that she did not come from far off, as she hails—from Africa. She is the daughter of the African tragedian Ira Aldridge and studied singing in Germany, England and France, and has appeared with great success in operas and concerts outside of Germany. She is praised as the possessor of a true contralto voice with a wide range. In the course of the festival there will be an opportunity to put these statements to the test.

The singer fell sick during rehearsals and did not perform that summer. Despite encouragement from Cosima Wagner, the composer’s widow, Aldridge faded from view. A few reference works mention her; otherwise, she has vanished from the historical record…

Read the entire article here.

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Amanda Aldridge, Teacher and Composer: A Life in Music

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-08-18 19:20Z by Steven

Amanda Aldridge, Teacher and Composer: A Life in Music

Journal of Singing
January 2010
ISSN: 10867732

Joyce Andrews, Adjunct Instructor of Music
Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin

Aldridge was a remarkable person who devoted her lifetime to music, enriching the musical culture of Great Britain through her multi-talents as composer (published under the nom de plume “Montague Ring”) and as teacher, singer, and pianist. She mentored and inspired many young musicians and became a central figure in the black community in London.

ALTHOUGH THE NAME OF MONTAGUE RING is not familiar to most musicians today, this London composer wrote music that was extremely popular in Europe in the early twentieth century. Major music publishing firms published numerous songs in London by Ring between the years 1907 and 1925. Written predominantly in a romantic parlor song style fashionable in that day, Montague Ring’s songs for voice and piano numbered almost thirty, although the composer’s output included various compositions for other instruments that also gained considerable recognition.

A bit of investigation into this little known composer with the distinguished-sounding British high society name reveals a surprise – that Montague Ring was merely the pseudonym adopted by Afro-British female composer Amanda Ira Aldridge, born Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge (1866-1956). Although reasons vary as to why composers opt to publish under a name other than their own, in Amanda Aldridge’s case, it may well be that her chosen pseudonym allowed her a degree of separation between her varied career pursuits. Amanda Aldridge was an active, accomplished musician during her long career and gained public attention through the various “hats” she wore as concert singer, piano accompanist, and voice teacher, as well as the composer Montague Ring. Particularly impressive is the musical circle in which she traveled in London as well as her vocal pedigree – she was an early pupil of Jenny Lind (famously known as the “Swedish Nightingale”) at the Royal College of Music in London. Aldridge is also attributed with providing voice instruction to some of the most acclaimed artists of the twentieth century, including African American singers Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. The accomplishment of so many careers was certainly inspired, and reinforced, by an additional significant detail about Amanda Aldridge she was the daughter of one of the most acclaimed tragedians of his time in Europe, the African American actor Ira Aldridge

Read the entire article here.

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An Intellectual History of Black Women

Posted in Africa, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-02 20:06Z by Steven

An Intellectual History of Black Women

Katharine Cornell Theater
54 Spring Street
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568
Sunday, 2015-08-02, 19:00-20:30 EDT (Local Time)

Moderator:

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Discussants:

Farah J. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies
Columbia University

Mia Bay, Professor of History and Director of Center for Race and Ethnicity
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan School of Law

Barbara D. Savage, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

The Vineyard Haven Public Library presents a panel discussion celebrating intellectuals previously neglected because of race and gender. Moderated by Evelyn Higginbotham, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African American Studies at Harvard. Featuring all 4 editors of the new book Toward and Intellectual History of Black Women.  Join us for what should be a lively and stimulating discussion.

For more information, click here.

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How to Unlearn History | Ella Achola | TEDxCoventGardenWomen

Posted in Autobiography, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-07-25 00:16Z by Steven

How to Unlearn History | Ella Achola | TEDxCoventGardenWomen

TEDx Talks
2015-07-21

Ella Achola, Founder
Ain’t I A Woman Collective

From awkward school encounters to groan-inducingly offensive questions, Ella finds herself at the intersections of identity, and shares her big idea for bringing ourselves into the stories we tell.

Ella Achola is a writer and founder of the Ain’t I A Woman Collective. Born in Berlin, Ella founded the Collective as an opportunity to engage with her Afro-German heritage and extend the conversation about Europe’s black diaspora beyond the UK.

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First African-American woman novelist revisited

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:24Z by Steven

First African-American woman novelist revisited

Harvard University Gazette
Cambridge, Massachusetts
2005-03-24

Ken Gewertz, Harvard News Office

Harriet Wilson was a survivor. Now we have proof.

Wilson wrote “Our Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black,” the earliest known novel by an African-American woman. It tells the story of Frado, a young biracial girl born in freedom in New Hampshire who becomes an indentured servant to a tyrannical and abusive white woman. In 1859, when the book was published, the abolitionist movement had created a vogue among Northern readers for autobiographies of escaped slaves, but Wilson’s story of a free black abused by her Northern employer did not fit the established mold, and the novel soon fell into obscurity.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, found a copy of the novel in a used bookstore in the early 1980s and was intrigued by it. Among those specialists who were aware of the book, many doubted whether it was really the work of a black writer, but Gates wondered why anyone in 1859 would identify herself as black unless she were.

He started searching for evidence of Wilson’s existence and eventually succeeded in documenting her life up to 1863. The facts he uncovered closely resembled the events in the life of the novel’s protagonist. Gates, who published his findings in a 1983 edition of the novel, concluded that Wilson must have died around the time the historical trail went cold.

Now evidence has surfaced showing that Wilson survived almost another 40 years, demonstrating in other areas of endeavor the resilience and creativity that allowed her to try her hand at writing.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, associate professor of English and American Studies at Occidental College in California, and Reginald Pitts, a historical researcher and genealogical consultant, spoke Friday (March 18) about information they have uncovered about the latter half of Wilson’s life. The event was sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Department of African and African American Studies. Foreman and Pitts have incorporated their research into an introduction to a new edition of Wilson’s novel (Penguin Classics, 2005)…

Read the entire article here.

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Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:13Z by Steven

Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Penguin Press
2009 (First published in 1859)
176 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780143105763
Ebook ISBN: 9781440649141

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900)

Introduction and Notes by:

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ned B. Allen Professor of English
University of Delaware

Reginald Pitts

For the 150th anniversary of its first publication, a new edition of the pioneering African-American classic, reflecting groundbreaking discoveries about its author’s life

First published in 1859, Our Nig is an autobiographical narrative that stands as one of the most important accounts of the life of a black woman in the antebellum North. In the story of Frado, a spirited black girl who is abused and overworked as the indentured servant to a New England family, Harriet E. Wilson tells a heartbreaking story about the resilience of the human spirit. This edition incorporates new research showing that Wilson was not only a pioneering African-American literary figure but also an entrepreneur in the black women’s hair care market fifty years before Madame C. J. Walker’s hair care empire made her the country’s first woman millionaire.

Read the book at Project Gutenberg here.

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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2015-06-23 00:37Z by Steven

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015-03-31
48 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102293
eBook ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102286

Margarita Engle

Rafael López

In this picture book bursting with vibrance and rhythm, a girl dreams of playing the drums in 1930s Cuba, when the music-filled island had a taboo against female drummers.

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

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