Documentary “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” tonight at Mosaic Templars

(AP Photo/Random House/Dwight Carter)

Join Mosaic Templars Cultural Center during Women’s History Month for a screening of the documentary film “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.”

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (Random House), she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.

With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, “American Masters” – “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments.

This film is presented in partnership with Arkansas Educational Television Network.

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90 years of Maya Angelou

Though she left this earth physically in 2014, Maya Angelou’s work and legacy continue on in the lives she touched and her writings.   Ninety years ago today, she was born in St. Louis.

On February 23, 1998, Maya Angelou appeared with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in a concert at Robinson Center.  The evening featured Dr. Angelou narrating Joseph Schwantner’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “New Morning for the World.”

Dr. Angelou, a former resident of Stamps, Arkansas, was not a stranger to Little Rock. She had appeared before at Wildwood Park and would later appear at the Clinton Presidential Center.

A former Poet Laureate of the United States and Tony nominated actor, she won a Grammy Award for her reading of “On the Pulse of the Morning” which had been written for the first inauguration of Bill Clinton as President of the United States.

A poet, author, educator, dancer, singer, actor, and activist, she wrote seven autobiographies. The most notable was arguably I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Born in St. Louis, she spent part of her childhood in Arkansas before moving to California.  She led a peripatetic life both geographically and career-wise ending as a professor at Wake Forest and residing in North Carolina.  It was there that she died in May 2014.

One of the ways her work continues is through the Celebrate Maya project which is led by Janis Kearney.

LR Women Making History – Janis Kearney

Janis Kearney is the only person to have held the title of U.S. Presidential Diarist. In 1995 she was appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas, she was hired by the State of Arkansas as a program manager.  Nine years later, she became managing editor for the Arkansas State Press. She later purchased it from owner Daisy Bates.

In 1992, she took a leave from the paper to work on the Clinton presidential campaign.  Following the election, she worked in the transition office, the White House, and the U.S. Small Business Administration until her appointment as Presidential Diarist.

In 2001, she moved to Chicago and started working on a book, while also having fellowships at Harvard and DePaul.  In 2004, she founded Writing Our World Press and published her first book, Cotton Field of Dreams.  Her Clinton biography, Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton-From Hope to Harlem was published in 2006.  Since then she has also published a novel, a biography of Daisy Bates, and the second part of her memoirs.

She is also active in the Celebrate! Maya Project. This program seeks to honor and promote the inclusive literacy, creativity, and social consciousness of the life and work of artist and activist Maya Angelou.

Black History Month – Maya Angelou and Robinson Center

1414mayaOn February 23, 1998, Maya Angelou appeared with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in a concert at Robinson Center.  The evening featured Dr. Angelou narrating Joseph Schwantner’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “New Morning for the World.”

Dr. Angelou, a former resident of Stamps, Arkansas, was not a stranger to Little Rock. She had appeared before at Wildwood Park and would later appear at the Clinton Presidential Center.

A former Poet Laureate of the United States and Tony nominated actor, she won a Grammy Award for her reading of “On the Pulse of the Morning” which had been written for the first inauguration of Bill Clinton as President of the United States.

A poet, author, educator, dancer, singer, actor, and activist, she wrote seven autobiographies. The most notable was arguably I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Born in St. Louis, she spent part of her childhood in Arkansas before moving to California.  She led a peripatetic life both geographically and career-wise ending as a professor at Wake Forest and residing in North Carolina.  It was there that she died in May 2014.

Laughter and Lyrics tonight featuring Phyllis Yvonne Stickney

mtcc nps stickneyThe Central High School National Historic Site and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center present a special program tonight.  The program is “Laughter & Lyrics” and stars acclaimed actress, comedienne and author Phyllis Yvonne Stickney.  The event starts at 6:30 pm tonight at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Drawing from the words of some of the leading African American female writers and thinkers in the second half of the 20th Century, Stickney has created an evening of thought provoking spoken word, social commentary, live music, and Conscious Comedy. This 90 minute theatrical presentation will draw on the body works of Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee and feature excerpts from Beah Richards’ “A Black Woman Speaks.”

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney is a world-class artist, producer, director, author, motivational speaker, clothing designer, community activist, businesswoman and surrogate mother to many. Ms. Stickney is best known and respected for her work in film, stage, television and comedy. Her portrayals range from articulate attorney to feisty comedy club diva, to a Jamaican mother of class. She is regarded as one of the most intelligently hilarious comic talents and was recognized by HBO in THE HISTORY OF BLACKS IN COMEDY. Her film credits include NEW JACK CITY, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, THE INKWELL, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?, MALCOLM X, and the “ABC Afterschool Special,” DADDY’S GIRL. She made television history by portraying an Afrocentric character on THE COSBY SHOW spinoff, A DIFFERENT WORLD.

She also played Lena in Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning play A RAISIN IN THE SUN at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The play was produced in January 2011 and received great reviews and exceeded box office expectations.

 

Arkansas at the Grammys – A Little Rock, a little country, a little soul, etc.

One of Johnny Cash's Grammy Awards

One of Johnny Cash’s Grammy Awards

The 57th annual Grammy Awards are tonight.  There are several nominees with Arkansas connections.

The documentary Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me spawned nominations in three different categories.  The Band Perry is nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their take on Campbell’s hit “Gentle on My Mind” from the film’s soundtrack.  Campbell himself is nominated for co-writing the song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” in the Best Country Song category.  The song is also nominated in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category.

Former Arkansan Smokie Norful is nominated for two Grammy Awards tonight.  For his song “No Greater Love” he is nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song. His album Forever Yours is nominated for Best Gospel Album.

John Waters, who will be headlining at the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival, is nominated for Best Spoken Word Album for Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America.

Though not an Arkansan, Roseanne Cash comes from Arkansas stock and has been an active supporter of efforts to establish a museum in Dyess, Arkansas. She is nominated for three Grammy Awards: Best American Roots Performance (“A Feather’s Not a Bird”), Best American Roots Song (“A Feather’s Not a Bird”), and Best Americana Album (The River & The Thread).

The Grammy Hall of Fame contains several recordings with Arkansas connections.  The 1969 album The Band by The Band, which featured Levon Helm, was inducted in 1999.  Louis Jordan has several singles inducted: 1946’s “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens,” 1945’s “Caldonia Boogie,” 1946’s “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” and 1946’s “Let the Good Times Roll,” Charlie Rich’s 1973 single “Behind Closed Doors” was inducted as was Conway Twitty’s 1970 hit “Hello Darlin’.” Patsy Montana is included for her 1935 song “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”  Al Green is included for 1971’s “Let’s Stay Together” and 1974’s “Take Me to the River.”

Glen Campbell and his family at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Glen Campbell and his family at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Glen Campbell has three recordings in the Grammy Hall of Fame: 1967’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” 1967’s “Gentle on My Mind,” and 1968’s “Wichita Lineman.”  Johnny Cash has four entries: the singles “Folsom Prison Blues” from 1956, “I Walk the Line” from 1956, and “Ring of Fire” from 1963. In addition his album “Johnny Cash at San Quentin” from 1969 was inducted.

The 1949 musical cast album from South Pacific featuring a heroine from Little Rock was inducted. Another Broadway-themed inductee is “Lullaby of Broadway” featuring former Little Rock resident Dick Powell from 1935.

Here are some past Grammy winners from Arkansas:

  • Bill Clinton, 2004 Best Spoken Word Album – My Life
  • Bill Clinton and others, 2003 Best Spoken Word Album for Children – Peter and the Wolf
  • Hillary Clinton, 1996 Best Spoken Word Album – It Takes a Village
  • Evanescence, 2003 Best New Artist, Best Hard Rock Performance (“Bring Me to Life”)
  • Al Green has 11 Grammy Awards spanning from 1981 to 2008. In 2002 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Johnny Cash won 13 Grammy Awards spanning from 1967 to 2007. In 1999 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Glen Campbell received 5 Grammy Awards in 1967 and 1968. In 2012, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award. That moment is captured in the documentary Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me.
  • As part of The Band, Levon Helm received a 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award. As an individual artist he received Grammy Awards in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
  • Conway Twitty received a 1971 Grammy for Country Duo or Group for “After The Fire Is Gone” duet with Loretta Lynn.
  • Charlie Rich won the 1973 Grammy for Male Country Vocal Performance for “Behind Closed Doors.”
  • Smokie Norful won the 2004 Grammy for Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for Nothing Without You.
  • Maya Angelou won Grammy Awards in the Spoken Word Album for 1993’s On the Pulse of Morning, 1995’s Phenomenal Woman and 2002’s A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

Maya Angelou celebrated at Mosaic Templars this morning

mosaictemplarsToday at 10am, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center celebrates the life of poet, author, entertainer and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou.

The former Arkansan’s inspirational story will be brought to life by Dr. Gwendolyn Twillie, former chairwoman of the Theatre and Dance Department at UALR.

Registration is required. Contact Elvon Reed at 501.683.3592.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.