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Bettina Aptheker: “The Passion and Pageantry of Shirley Graham {Du Bois}: Composer & Playwright, 1920s-1930s”

April 25, 2011 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm  |  Music Center Recital Hall


Shirley Graham {Du Bois} (1896-1977) had a successful early career as composer, performer and playwright that included her formal studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and the near completion of a Ph D at NYU. In 1932 her opera, “Tom-Tom” for which she wrote the libretto and composed the music, was performed as part of the Cleveland (Ohio) Summer Opera Festival to a capacity audience of 15,000 on opening night; the opera was a sensation. She later won a coveted two-year Young Playwrights Fellowship to Yale, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and became the Director of Negro Theater for the Federal Theater Project in Chicago in the 1930s. This presentation will examine the passion and pageantry of her work, focusing in particular on her operatic/composing career and its historical significance. Unable to pursue her artistic life because she was a single mother with two young children in the midst of the Depression, Graham went onto work in a variety of race-related and increasingly radical political projects, and became the very successful author of young adult biographies of famous Black Americans in the 1940s and 1950s. She married Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in 1951. In addition to extensive archival work, this presentation is based upon Aptheker’s friendship with the Du Bois’.

This colloquium is presented at the invitation of the Music Department; all are welcome to attend.


April 25, 2011
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm


Music Center Recital Hall
Music Center
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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