"Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey"

Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DVD cover
Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey is an American documentary film directed and written by Nina Kennedy. The film chronicles the life of concert pianist, professor, and choral director Matthew Kennedy.[1][2][3][4]


Born in the segregated South in 1921, Matthew Kennedy was known throughout his home state of Georgia as a child-prodigy. At age 12, he attended a concert given by the famous Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in Macon, Georgia in 1932. When this film was produced, he was one of few surviving witnesses of Rachmaninoff's live performance. In his filmed interviews, Dr. Kennedy describes what he remembers of the concert from his perspective in the segregated balcony for “Colored.” He was also the star of his own radio show broadcast from Macon in the early 1930s. At that time, Kennedy's stage name on radio and in the cinema – where he played the organ to accompany the silent films – was “Sunshine.”
Eventually Matthew Kennedy attended the Juilliard School in New York, traveled the world as a concert pianist, and directed the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee from 1957 to 1986.
Matthew Kennedy served as a professor of piano on the music faculty at Fisk University until his retirement in 1986. In 2006 he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Fisk University.
The film contains footage of interviews with Dr. Kennedy, live performances, radio broadcasts, studio recordings, and interviews with his former students and colleagues.


The film was produced in Nashville, Tennessee, from 2001 to 2006, filmed by Gil Williams, Nina Kennedy, and J.P. Peach. Post-production took place at Film House under post-production supervisor J.P. Peach and assistant editor Phil Hahn.


The film had its world-premiere at the 2007 Nashville Film Festival where it was awarded the Rosetta Miller Perry prize for Best Film by a Black Filmmaker.[5][6] The Fisk Jubilee Singers performed live at the premiere, and a second screening was scheduled when the first screening sold out.

Critical reception

Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey was included in The Nashville Scene's 2007 "Best of the Fest" list.[5] It was subsequently requested and screened at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville, the African Diaspora Film Festival in New York, and the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.


The soundtrack to Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey was produced in 2007 by Matthew Kennedy Enterprises, Incorporated under the Kennedy Music Group label, and contains all of the complete performances of music heard in the film.[7] The twenty tracks contain piano performances by Matthew Kennedy of BeethovenChopinLisztRachmaninoff, and the first movement of Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D major with his wife Anne Gamble Kennedy. There are also his original arrangements of Duke Ellington tunes, gospel songs, and spirituals. The CD also includes recordings of live concerts and radio broadcasts by the Fisk Jubilee Singers under Matthew Kennedy's direction, and well as the direction of Mrs. James A. Myers, and John W. Work III.


  1. ^ "Fisk Music Group Was Moneymaking Powerhouse"NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  2. ^ Breyer-Grell, Melody (2010-10-11). "Nina Kennedy Talks About Race and Her Film, 'Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey'"HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  3. ^ "Fisk Jubilee Singers leader Matthew Kennedy dies"USA TODAY. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  4. ^ Cardona, Nina (2014-06-06). "Fisk Jubilee Singers Leader Matthew Kennedy Dies At 93 – WPLN News Archive"Nashvillepublicmedia.org. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  5. Jump up to:a b "Best of the Fest"Nashville Scene. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Cinematic Potpourri"Nashville Scene. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Matthew Kennedy – Fisk University's Official Weblog"Fisk University's Official Weblog. Retrieved 2020-05-17.

External links


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