Denise Grace Foundation, Hamid Drake, Cardwell Dawson discussed on The Culture Soup Podcast


The i love right well and you know they're showing up and being in spaces and be your authentic black self but then there's also doing the work you wanna talk about. What you doing with the denise grace foundation. I think is fascinating. I think it speaks to exactly what we've been talking about about the denise grace foundation what we we know that an and with this particular this rebirth that we're we're seeing happened all around the globe particularly in america where people are really focused on diversity on equity on inclusion that we uncover and we shine the spotlight on those who have been systematically and traditionally left out of the story. So what. We're doing with the denise grace foundation is that we're telling those stories of great american heroes that we never learned about People never learned about that why people never learned about those stories. You know we just had him back in may thirty first. We just have this story about the tulsa race Mascot right one hundred years people didn't know about it right. You know people didn't know about it. we've seen the birth of loss of organizations. That are there's a wonderful woman by the name of hamid drake. Who's doing something called the unknown project and again it's about celebrating. Those great americans who have traditionally been left out of the story so we are going through the lens of music with the denise grace foundation so we look at somebody let who has served as inspiration for us and that is mary. Cardwell dawson hard. World awesome wanted to be an opera singer and so she graduate from the new england conservatory. Which is my alma mater. Nine hundred and five. She graduated as a double degree with voice with piano. Now took our longtime to get that degree because you know they difficult they were making it possible and would hoping that she would quit so by the time she graduates. She was thirty years old because they just kept giving her. They'll move finish line. He moved the goalposts throw. You can't do that anyway. Whatever she finished and then she wanted to get hired as an opposite would hire how so. She decided that she would create our own company. Like you've done. Look i've done. Yes seen so many wonderful mighty women due to say we'd look and see where there's a problem and how we're gonna six that problem right and if it doesn't exist and we will fill in that void. So she she created the national negro opera company Which is a building that stance is an old victorian home. The stands in pittsburgh still standing. Today it was the longest running the most successful run by this black woman. And what she did was. She gave jobs to over eighteen hundred singers. Just singers alone k then. She hired orchestras designers conductors. And the directors and all those people and then she had to find venues for them to perform all over the world and cheat all over the united states and she. She had chapters in cleveland in chicago in new york in baltimore in washington. Dc personal she created these national negro opera companies to give an opportunity to celebrate black. A artistry from these fantastic artists who were otherwise not getting higher and clearly just because of the color of their skin so then she also taught music says she taught she taught voice and she took piano and she taught languages and she starts stage direction and she had she taught over six hundred kids music. Right one of which was robert mcferrin. The father of bobby mixer amal jamal just pianist. Who still is alive today. Every ride all these ventured launched the careers of lillian avantis. She launched career of so many incredible people. And then this place this wonderful monument which still stands in pittsburgh today which we at the denise grace foundation are raising money for original wariness about to get this place rebuilt because it's nearly dilapidated. still standing. Some advancing has been declared since one thousand nine hundred four the number one on the endangered monuments list. So the young the historic preservation society. It is protected because it is a national monument but this place was also an access house in a safe house. So when jazz greats giants like like lena horne like count. Basie sarah vaughan like all these people would come. That was during the time of segregation. They had no place to stay on the tour. It would stay at the opera house. That's amazing that is amazing. So and but this is she's been called the first lady of opera and nobody knows nobody knows about her and they're hidden figure in another big. We're concerned with that. The denise grace foundation we are an organization that's about hidden figures about great american heroes know about bringing those stories to the public through the research through our programs through getting into getting educational model modules into the public schools into the music conservatories of schools of music. All kinds of things like that. And that's what we're doing. That's amazing and this conversation with you and one of your leaders of the organization ronald t smith. It was an awesome conversation and one of the things he drew out. And you brought this parallel out just into so much of what we're doing is parallel. And what miss mary did with. The opera house was away to say. I'll just include myself. I love that is what we have to do sometimes. It's exactly what you have to do because again again. If this is being controlled the wave of the country has been unfolding has been under you. Know a white dominance then. They're not going to see that they're not going to know that on until they do and i think that what's happening now is that we're seeing people who are as as we said earlier authentically sincere about wanting to make this country more equitable more inclusive more diverse and reflect who we are american experiment that we are an amalgamation of all kinds of different color and back is strain and is our beauty. Is that so many different voices and so many different perspectives and that we can find a way to use this to advance us. Forward as a nation absolutely denise. What's coming up for you for the foundation. What do people need to know. So what's coming up for me. Which i'm incredibly excited about. We were just talking about our foundation and mirror. Club will dawson I am doing the musical either. It's called a play with music. Okay about the life of mary cocoa dawson. And that's going this summer Debuted at glimmer glass music festival in cooperstown where the baseball hall of famous Um.

Coming up next