On This Day: April 5th, 2021

Today, on the anniversary of my New York Recital Debut at Lincoln Center, I am celebrating the news that my first book of memoirs is a finalist for a 2021 Lambda Literary Award. While in the throes of writing and editing this work, I never imagined that my story of struggle as a concert pianist - who is also a woman and an African American - would be singled out for such an honor. It has renewed my faith and encouraged me to put more of my stories on paper.


Celebrated women concert pianists are few and far between. I am reminded of a certain female pianist who has enjoyed much fame and success, who started out in her career as the wife of a famous orchestral conductor. As marriage to a man was out of the question for me, I missed out on some of the perks that a wife enjoys. I never knew how to flirt with conductors or concert agents to secure contracts, as many of my white female heterosexual colleagues were able to do.


In addition to bearing the burden of being a female without male support, there was also the issue of my being black. As I stated in the book, of course no one comes out and admits that they refused to give you a contract because of your race. So one is always left to wonder. However, I certainly knew that I felt excluded from the social circles which contained certain classical music moguls. I knew that I would have to penetrate that world based on my talent alone, and rarely did I have the opportunity even to introduce myself to these power brokers.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the fact that I was an African American musician increased my popularity. It was a welcome relief from all of the discrimination I had faced in the United States.


I am so grateful that the literary community has embraced my stories, and has given me the opportunity to express myself on a new platform. Who would have known that we were on the verge of entering into a global pandemic when the book was first published? We still have yet to schedule any public readings and book signings. But as more of us become vaccinated, hopefully I'll be able to announce the date of a public book signing soon!

Meanwhile, I'll see you at the Lambda Literary Awards virtual ceremony on June 1st.

Comments

  1. You're great no matter what you do. You are a vine of a very special Grape Harvest Nina.
    I was thinking of both your parents today, Matthew and Ann, how wonderful they were and what great music they both could make. All The Best, I'll be watching for you, fellow Juilliard Alum.
    Angeline Butler, Fisk U class of 1961.

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