WQXR Presents "I, Too, Sing America: Music in the Life of Langston Hughes," Hosted by Terrance McKnight - Premieres Wednesday, February 1 on 105.9FM and wqxr.org
I, Too, Sing America: Music in the Life of Langston Hughes
Hosted by Terrance McKnight
Special Radio Documentary Explores the Lesser-Known Musical Accomplishments of One of America’s Foremost Poetic Voices
Premieres on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 9pm ET
on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York and via live webstream on www.wqxr.org
Additional Airtimes on WQXR’s sister stations WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio throughout February
WQXR to Also Air Radio Specials on Martin Luther King, Jr., Hazel Scott, and
The Morehouse Glee Club Each Wednesday throughout Black History Month
(New York, NY – January 24, 2012) -- Langston Hughes, an enduring icon of the Harlem Renaissance, is best-known for his written work, which wedded his fierce dedication to social justice with his belief in the transformative power of the word. But he was a music lover, too, and some of the works he was most proud of were collaborations with composers and musicians.
On Wednesday, February 1 at 9pm ET - what would have been Hughes’ 110th birthday – WQXR, the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station, will kick off Black History Month with the premiere of I, TOO, SING AMERICA: MUSIC IN THE LIFE OF LANGSTON HUGHES, a one-hour radio special that shines a light on Hughes’ lesser-known musical compositions.
Hosted by Terrance McKnight, WQXR host and former Morehouse professor of music, I, TOO, SING AMERICA will dive into the songs, cantatas, musicals and librettos that flowed from Hughes’ pen. As he did with his poetry, Hughes used music to denounce war, combat segregation and restore human dignity in the face of Jim Crow. His musical adventures included writing lyrics for stage pieces such as Black Nativity and Tambourines to Glory, works that helped give birth to the genre of Gospel Play, as well as songs for radio plays and political campaigns, and the libretto for Kurt Weill’s Street Songs.
I, TOO, SING AMERICA will also tell the dramatic tale of Hughes’ collaboration with William Grant Still, hailed today as “the Dean of African American composers.” For 15 years, against the backdrop of pre-Civil Rights racism, the two fought to see their opera become a reality. Their historic success came in 1949, when Troubled Island – which told the story of Haitian revolution leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines – was staged by the New York City Opera, becoming the first opera by African Americans to ever be staged by a major company.
The documentary will include recordings of select pieces of Hughes’ musical works, some of which were never performed again in their entirety after their original production. It will also feature archival interview tape of William Grant Still discussing Troubled Island.
“When people think of Langston and music, they often think of the jazz accompaniment that he'd recite his poetry to or the many song composers who set his poetry to music,” said MCKNIGHT. “But what often gets overlooked is that Langston himself wrote songs and song lyrics and the fact that composers often approached him to collaborate on extended compositions including opera and ballet. I hope this hour will shed light on Langston’s intention to tell the stories of ordinary people through music of all types.”
Wednesday, February 1 at 9pm ET
WQXR 105.9 FM / New York and www.wqxr.org
February 15 at 8pm on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 and NJPR
Saturday, February 18 at 6am on WNYC-FM and NJPR; at 2pm on WNYC-AM
Sunday, February 19 at 8pm on WNYC-AM and NJPR
On subsequent Wednesdays, WQXR will air additional music specials from Terrance McKnight about Martin Luther King, Jr., Hazel Scott, and the Morehouse Glee Club. The schedule is as follows:
Still Swinging, Still Classic: A Musical Biography of Pioneering Pianist Hazel Scott
Wednesday, February 8 at 10pm
WQXR 105.9 FM and www.wqxr.org
McKnight presents a portrait of Hazel Scott, an accomplished Julliard-trained pianist, a civil rights activist and the wife of late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood: A Musical Journey in the Life of Martin Luther King
Wednesday, February 15 at 10pm
WQXR 105.9 FM and www.wqxr.org
McKnight interweaves musical examples with Dr. King's own speeches and sermons to illustrate the powerful place that music held in his work – and examines how the musical community responded to and participated in Dr. King’s cause.
100 Years with the Morehouse Glee Club
Wednesday, February 22 @ 10 pm
WQXR 105.9 FM and www.wqxr.org
In 2011 the Morehouse College Glee Club toured the U.S. in celebration of its 100th anniversary and gave a sold-out performance at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. This special features Glee Club alumnus Terrance McKnight sharing that performance, which spanned the classical repertoire and African-American spirituals.
New York Public Radio is New York's premier public radio franchise, comprising WNYC, WQXR, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, and New Jersey Public Radio, as well as www.wnyc.org, www.wqxr.org, www.thegreenespace.org and www.njpublicradio.org. As America's most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1 million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City's cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and the British Broadcasting Company. WQXR is New York City's sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, among other New York City venues, immersing listeners in the city's rich musical life. In addition to its audio content, WNYC and WQXR produce content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station's street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. New Jersey Public Radio extends WNYC reach and service more deeply into New Jersey. For more information about New York Public Radio, visit www.nypublicradio.org.
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