Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Camilla Williams, An Octave Above

Camilla Ella Williams was an American operatic soprano, and the first African American to have received a contract with a major American opera company.

A Woman of Firsts
  • In 1946 she was the first African American to receive a regular contract with a major American opera company and made her debut with the New York City Opera singing the title role in Puccini'sMadama Butterfly
  • In April 1954 she became the first African American to sing a major role with the Vienna State Opera when she performed her signature part of Cio-Cio-San. 
  • Williams was the first African American Professor of Voice appointed to the voice faculty of what is now known as the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 1977 and in 1984 was the first African American instructor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China
  • In 1995 she was an inaugural recipient of the National Opera Association's "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award, honoring the contributions of African Americans to the field of opera and in 1996 was honored as Outstanding African American Singer/Pioneer by Harvard University.
Read Her Story

In 2011 her autobiography "The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Diva" was published by The Edwin Mellen Press.

Hear Her Song

January in Black History

Each month we'll list daily black history notes for the month. Here's what happened in January in Black History.

On January 1 in Black History...…
In 1997, Kofi Annan of Ghana became the first black secretary of United Nations.
In 1916, first issue of Journal of Negro History was published.
In 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1956, Sudan was proclaimed independent.

On January 2 in Black History...
In 1954, Oprah Winfrey was born.
In 1915, John Hope Franklin was born.
In 1898, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander becomes the first African American to earn a Ph.D in economics is born in Philadelphia ,PA.
In 1831, "The Liberator", an abolitionist newspaper by William Lloyd Garrison, began publishing.

On January 4 in Black History...
1935, Boxer Floyd Patterson born
1937, Opera singer, Grace Bumbry was born, 1937
1901, C.L.R. James born
In 1920, first black baseball league, National Negro Baseball League organized
On January 15 in Black History...…
In 1929, Martin Luther King Jr was born.
In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded.

On January 10 in Black History...
In 1915, classical conductor Dean Dixon was born.
In 1925, drummer, Max Roach, was born.
In 1938, baseball great, Willie Lee McCovey was born.
In 1864, Scientist and inventor George Washington Carver was born.

On January 20 in Black History...
In 2001, Colin Luther Powell became the first African-American Secretary of State.
In 1986, the first national Martin Luther King Jr holiday was celebrated.
In 1920, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded.
In 1986, Ronald McNair, the first Black astronaut killed during a space mission, when the space shuttle "Challenger" met with disaster, which blew up shortly after take-off.

On January 25 in Black History...
In 1980, BET, Black Entertainment Television begins broadcasting.
In 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm begins her campaign for President of the U.S.
In 1950, writer Gloria Naylor was born.
In 1851, Sojourner Truth addressed the first Black Women's Rights Convention in Akron Ohio.

On January 31 in Black History...
In 1919, Jackie Robinson was born.
In 1920, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded.
In 1924, Etta Motten sings for President and Mrs. Roosevelt, becoming the first African-American to perform at the White House.
In 1962, Samuel L. Gravely becomes the first African-American to command a US warship.

SEE MORE HERE - http://experiencinghistory.blogspot.com/2011/01/january-in-black-history.html

Check out these sites are where I get many of the daily black history info: http://www.blackfacts.com/http://www.dayinblackhistory.com/

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Honoring Heroes, Carl Clark

On January 18, 2012, Carl Clark was finally recognized for his heroism in World War II.

Carl E. Clark, 95, never dreamed the day would come when he would be formally recognized for his heroism during World War II, let alone by the Navy's top official and in front of half a thousand people.

"This is overwhelming," the soft-spoken 95-year-old Menlo Park resident said after Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pinned the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal to his chest during a ceremony Tuesday at Moffett Field.

Clark, an African-American who served at a time when the Navy was segregated, had his reasons to doubt.

The steward first class' efforts to keep the USS Aaron Ward and its men from succumbing to a kamikaze attack were left out of the official battle record because of his skin color, according to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, who championed the effort to recognize Clark.

"Today, we will add that final entry that has been missing for almost two-thirds of a century," Mabus said Tuesday, referring to the form that members of the military receive when they retire.

The USS Aaron Ward, a destroyer minelayer, was on picket duty near Okinawa on May 3, 1945, when 25 Japanese planes loaded with fuel and bombs swooped out of the clouds with deadly intent.

The impact of the first of six kamikaze pilots to strike the ship threw Clark against the ceiling of a passageway and fractured his collarbone. Despite the injury, he raced to his battle station.

"A broken collarbone could not break Carl's spirit," Eshoo said.

The nearly hourlong fight that followed was brutal, bloody and oddly personal. Clark saw the face of the second kamikaze pilot as he steered his plane into the ship's left flank, Mabus said.

Clark was alone at his station. The opening salvo had killed the rest of his eight-man damage control unit. Undeterred, he picked up a fire hose that usually required several men to operate and went to work.

Throughout the night, Clark put out fire after fire, including a smoldering ammunition locker.
An explosion there would have cracked the ship in half. He also carried many of his fellow crewmates to the aid station.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jimi Solanke, Master Storyteller

"if you lose your the depth of your cultural perspectives as an artist, you have nothing to say.."
Jimi Solanke

Jimi Solanke was featured on today's episode of CNN's "African Voices."  This 69 year old Nigerian Master Storyteller has been telling stories for decades.

He's a man of many voices, many faces, and many tales. Whether it's through music, dancing, or his art, Nigerian Jimi Solanke is a master of telling local folk stories. Success and fame came with two children's television shows - Storyland and African Stories - broadcast across Nigeria. Referred to fondly as "Uncle Jimi", Solanke also takes his acting into the rural villages to train aspiring artists. CNN told the story of 69 year-old Jimi Solanke, as told by Jimi Solanke, keeping his Yoruba culture alive.   http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.344443812239259.103481.204426449574330&type=3

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