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Alice Randall

Fiction writer, lyricist, and screenwriter Alice Randall was born to Mari-Alice and George Randall on May 4, 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. She spent her early years in Detroit where she attended St. Phillips Lutheran School and Greenfield Peace Lutheran School. Moving with her mother to Washington, D.C., she was enrolled at Amidon Elementary School and graduated from Georgetown Day School. Briefly traveling to Great Britain to enroll in the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, she returned to enter Harvard University in the fall of 1977.

At Harvard, she was influenced by Hubert Matos, Harry Levin and Nathan Irving Huggins and was a member of the International Relations Council. Randall earned honors and her B.A. degree in English and American literature in 1981. In the early 1980s, Randall worked as a journalist and as a writer for Wolftrap Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Cultivating a taste for country music in 1981, Randall decided to move to Nashville in 1983 to become a country music song-writer. Having her first country hits in 1983 and 1984, Randall wrote "Girls Ride Horses Too" in 1987 and garnered a number one hit with "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl" recorded by Trisha Yearwood in 1993. Writing over 200 country songs with thirty recorded, Randall is the first African American woman to have a number one country hit.

Randall's first novel, “The Wind Done Gone” is a reinterpretation and parody of “Gone with the Wind.” The title critiques “Gone with the Wind” from the viewpoint of Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister Cynara, a mulatto slave on Scarlett's plantation. The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that “The Wind Done Gone” was too similar to “Gone with the Wind,” thus infringing its copyright. The lawsuit was eventually settled, allowing “The Wind Done Gone” to be published. The novel became a New York Times bestseller. Randall's second novel, “Pushkin and the Queen of Spades,” was named as one of the Washington Post's "Best Fiction of 2004."

As a screenwriter, Randall wrote a television movie for CBS based on her song XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl in 1994, and contributed to screenplay adaptations of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Brer Rabbit” and “Parting the Waters.” In the 1990s, she and fellow songwriter, J. C. Crowley, created a film and television development company called Black and White Pictures. Randall and friend, Mimi Oka, now operate a film and television development company in Nashville called “She Writes Movies, Inc.” She is also a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Middle Tennessee. Randall has recently published the book “Rebel Yell” in September, 2009. Randall is married to attorney, David Steele Ewing and has a daughter, Caroline Randall Williams.

Alice Randall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2007

Last Name

Randall

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

St. Philips Lutheran School

Greenfield Peace Lutheran School

Amidon Elementary School

Georgetown Day School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alice

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RAN06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do The Hard Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

5/4/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread Madeleines

Short Description

Fiction writer, screenwriter, and lyricist Alice Randall (1959 - ) authored the New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, and was the first African American woman to write a number one hit country song, "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl."

Employment

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Favorite Color

Black, White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alice Randall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alice Randall lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's foster family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about her father's descent from Confederate General Edmund Pettus

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her father's relationship with his white relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alice Randall remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alice Randall describes her father's young adulthood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how her parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alice Randall remembers the African American community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls her father's childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls integrating The Roeper School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers her parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about moving with her mother to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alice Randall remembers the riots of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her mother's work with the Surveys and Research Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes the riots of 1968 in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alice Randall remembers her interest in the Jewish faith

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls her teachers at the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alice Randall remembers learning to read

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her early interest in film

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Alice Randall describes her favorite museums in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Alice Randall talks about her favorite television programs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her first impressions of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her early understanding of racism

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alice Randall recalls her experiences of discrimination in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her experiences of financial discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the development of her racial identity

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls studying abroad at the University of London's Institute of Archaeology

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes her experiences in London, England

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls applying to Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the topic of her college application essay

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her first impressions of Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers historian Nathan Huggins

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talk about her favorite authors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alice Randall reflects upon her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her early career as a writer

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the origins of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her role as a professor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the complexities of country and R and B music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alice Randall shares her analysis of Chuck Berry's song, 'Memphis'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the cultural context of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her start as a country songwriter

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Alice Randall describes the inspiration behind her songwriting

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Alice Randall talks about the subjects of her country song lyrics

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her career as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes African American cowboy Britt Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her screenwriting projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her challenges as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her experiences working on the film 'Boomerang'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers selling the rights to her first film script

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes the development of her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her interpretation of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alice Randall recalls the lawsuit against her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about the criticism of 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes the settlement of the lawsuit against 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes the critical acclaim for 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes her current projects

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her concerns for African American children

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her lessons to her daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about her daughter's obstacles in school

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alice Randall reflects upon her career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alice Randall reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her family

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alice Randall narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities
Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia
Transcript
But my father [George Randall] always would take me to the dry cleaners and as a little baby he'd take me with him and he'd throw me in a big canvas, I don't even know what they're called, canvas bin with the clean clothes. That was my crib (laughter) 'cause he would, you know, he'd--a baby to him was a portable love thing. He wanted to be with me. And as I got older, you know, I started off in private school [St. Philip's Day School, Detroit, Michigan], he would always make me spend at least two weeks with him in the summer. And I got a little bit older at one point, and I didn't want to do it. And this may have been, say fourth grade. He said, "I'm gonna put a cot back there between where all the clothes are filed," as they called it, "and a television. If you wanna sit there, back in there and eat, somewhere and read books and not come out that's fine," of course I got bored. "But you're gonna see where the money comes from. You're gonna see what my life. You're gonna see what the real people are high and low, what people come in here. So you can tell everything about people by all these dirty clothes they send in here." And I love that part of him. You know, he always totally grasped hands with both sides of life with me. And--and I think I've been that way with my own daughter [Caroline Randall Williams], being very honest, open, realistic, wanting her to know people high and low. You know, my father was in Germany during the [U.S.] Army. He ended up being able, you know, had a facility for languages, speaking German. He loved Shakespeare [William Shakespeare]. He actually fell in love with Shakespeare in that Miller High School [Sidney D. Miller High School, Detroit, Michigan], his senior year. And my daughter is an amazing Shakespeare scholar now. But he imbued me with this love of language, love of learning, and so I think I'm very much like him. I'm not glamorous. Both of my parents were very glamorous people, superficially. They were--aside from being both extremely bright, the difference I see between the two of them, my father was bright and an absolutely loving family man, and extremely mature, able to put other people ahead of himself. My mother [Bettie Randall Reilly] was a bright person who was not remotely emotional, extremely objective. I always thought of her as a Evita Peron [Eva Peron] person, she married up each time. And there's no poetry in her soul. I don't recall my mother in my entire life, I never saw her reading a novel. I do notice that she owned maybe two, but literally in my entire life, I never saw my mother reading a novel. I never saw my father reading a novel either which is interesting.$$But he told good stories?$$He told great stories. And of course we were in Detroit [Michigan] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Did your mother tell stories at all?$$No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. She didn't tell stories. She barely cooked except for (laughter)--.$And I cannot say 'cause I don't wanna blame anyone, but somebody on one of these sides probably thought it would be a good idea to go speak at the Margaret Mitchell House [Atlanta, Georgia] and this is like asking--this is why I've learned to ask questions about where I'm being seated, how the picture is being taken. 'Cause I thought this was like they're holding out an olive branch. They told us that just no one had--they never let people speak inside, which is not true. It's documented that there have been readings before ins- inside. They made me give my speech outside on the porch. And if you know, old black, weird, southern segregation, black people stand outside, don't get--. They actually had me speaking outside on the porch with chairs in the lawn.$$Now this, what does this house look like, is it--I'm imagining a plantation or a big (unclear) house (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, 'cause she actually wasn't that rich. It was semi-fancy. It's not some kind of very fancy. It's a southern house in downtown Atlanta [Georgia] surrounded by the city. Everything around it has pretty much been torn down and they kept this and this lawn. And there's a--like a wrought iron fence around it. And there was, literally, a man in a Confederate uniform with some kind of sidearm marching in front the whole time that I am--. In fact, he tried to put something in--well I don't know that--I won't say that. There was a man in a Confederate uniform with a sidearm and he actually--glaring and being aggressive. And someone later, when I was signing, I had either a cup of coffee or a drink, meaning a drink like a cup of coffee or a Coca-Cola. One of the guards had to go take my drink, 'cause they thought someone had attempted to do something with my drink. I mean this is how careful we were having to be there. I mean, I don't know--we didn't pre- do a thorough investigation, but something. We had to be, even be careful in that kind of way. So, but I really did think, and it really was, there was a various aggressive, belligerent people outside of the gate of it. And they created in the--in the--in the environment 'cause I'm speaking on the porch where we gonna be subject to these people and anything could happen because they're just on the other side of the fence and they didn't. But they took me on a tour beforehand and some of this was recorded by Entertainment Weekly. And the head of that house, I wish I could recall her name, my husband [HistoryMaker David Ewing] will hopefully tell you what her name is, it's a three part name. And she got me alone. She showed me a picture of Malcolm X--excuse me--Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] dressed up like a little pickaninny at the opening of the movie of 'Gone with the Wind.' And she did not say these exact words, but this is a very clote- close paraphrase, essentially, "If Martin Luther King, Jr. can just go along to get along with us and do this and support this, why can't you." And I said, "It's good thing that I read my history and I know the rest of the pic- the story and I've seen this picture before." That Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father [Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr.], to get certain concessions from the white establishment in Atlanta at the time of the opening of the movie, made the women and children of his church available for a party to sing. He was rebuked at his national meeting of his church later that year. It's something that is understood that his son held against him for--it was something between them, they had a very good relationship, but it was something between them that he did not like. But can you imagine showing me this picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a little boy dressed up like a pickaninny singing. All these women and their hair is tied up in slave rags and tried--and. So, I, I actually exhibit one of my most triumphant southern moments of the day after going on this horrible tour. But, it was all I could do to not just cry at the meanness of it. And of course, she wanted to do this sort of secretly. I think I did speak of it in my talk, but and luckily there are a couple witnesses to it. But it happened. That's the kind of--and I said to her at the end, you know, there's really two differences between Margaret Mitchell and me (laughter), and one of them, these are not things I really truly think, but I did say this, I'd like to have this documented. I said, "The big difference between Margaret Mitchell and me is--." She said, "What is that?" I said, "Is that I got into the National Ju- Nashville Junior League [Junior League of Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee] and Margaret Mitchell wasn't asked to join the Atlanta Junior League [Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia] when she wanted to get in," (laughter). And this poor woman was devastated by this. "And the other one is I am noticing I see that you are--your renovations have been funded by Mercedes [Daimler Benz AG]." You can see that she thought that I was gonna be some sort of materialistic black person taken in by Mercedes. And she said, "Yes." And I said, "That seems so appropriate and wonder- and just interesting, not wonderful--appropriate." And she said, "Yes it is," and goes on and on, and just so appropriate. And she finally said, "Well why do you think it's so appropriate--." I mean, she's trying to figure--I said, "Because I just keep on thinking of how the early incarnation of that company funded Nazi Germany. And that these--the tanks that were plowing over our democracy and hopes for Western Europe, supporting the Nazi cause, all have these same Mercedes emblems on the front of it. It seems so appropriate as you plow over black American freedoms by holding up this icon that is so damaging, that you would be supported in that by this company," (laughter). That was about the last thing that woman said to me. But, then I went on and gave my little talk and had the Confederate reenactors.

Micki Grant

Lyricist, composer, writer and performer, Micki Grant was born to Gussie and Oscar Perkins on June 30, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother worked for Stanley Products and her father was a master barber and self-taught pianist. Encouraged by her parents to pursue music, writing and acting, Grant began taking piano lessons at eight years old, and at age nine, she took drama classes from Susan Porché. After high school, she pursued her acting career in earnest. Moving to Los Angeles, under the tutelage of her cousin, Jeni LeGon, a Hollywood tap dancer and performer, Grant was cast in James V. Hatch and C. Bernard Jackson’s Fly Blackbird. She moved with the show to New York City, where she also earned her B.A. degree in English and theatre at CUNY’s Lehman College, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

It was in New York that the writer, musician and performer consolidated her talents. While cast in Jean Genet’s long-running play, The Blacks, Grant began studying acting with Herbert Berhof and Lloyd Richards. As a result of her stage work, she won a major role in the daytime series Edge of Night. She also began to write a musical score with Vinnette Carroll, with whom she was to enjoy a successful collaboration that included, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, The Ups and Downs of Theophilis Maitland, Step Lively, Boy and Croesus and the Witch. Grants other Broadway credits include Your Arms Too Short to Box With God in 1976 and Working in 1978. As a lyricist, Grant worked on Eubie in 1978 and It’s So Nice to Be Civilized in 1980. Her other credits in music and lyrics includes J. E. Franklin’s The Prodigal Sister in 1974 and music and lyrics for Phillis in 1986. She also wrote the English lyrics for Jacques Brel Blues.

Grant received a Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delaney in a two-year tour of Having Our Say in 1996, which also ran six-weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1998. She is the recipient of the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award in 1999 and the AUDELCO’s Outstanding Pioneer Award in 2000. In February 2005, she was honored at the New Federal Theatre’s 35th Anniversary Gala.

Grant has also garnered a Grammy for Best Score from an original cast album; an OBIE Award for music and lyrics; a Drama Desk Award for lyrics and performance; an Outer Critics Circle Award for music, lyrics and performance and five Tony nominations. She is also the recipient of an NAACP Image Award.

Grant resides in New York City.

Accession Number

A2006.095

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/21/2006 |and| 9/1/2006

Last Name

Grant

Maker Category
Schools

McCosh Elementary School

Englewood High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Micki

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GRA07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/30/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Actress, lyricist, and songwriter Micki Grant (1929 - ) was a Grammy-winning composer, writer & performer who also earned five Tony Awards. Her Broadway credits included, "Your Arms Too Short to Box With God," and, "Working." Grant received a Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delaney in a two-year tour of, "Having Our Say," in 1996.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:3191,31:5858,46:6242,52:7586,78:8450,108:15362,198:17378,239:35654,456:68540,881:69314,891:74146,924:81558,1006:85033,1097:85585,1106:88240,1134:88660,1147:89150,1156:91050,1166:92162,1176:97935,1213:103119,1255:103593,1263:105963,1306:106674,1318:110466,1376:110861,1387:111177,1392:111967,1404:123933,1535:124714,1547:125992,1571:127412,1595:155030,1938:168964,2130:169419,2136:170693,2154:171330,2163:171967,2171:179066,2234:195508,2549:199165,2585:200374,2602:204373,2683:209520,2729$0,0:1001,24:1729,33:3185,55:3822,64:5096,79:5460,84:11011,173:27393,319:42485,545:51831,609:52099,614:52568,622:69716,802:70131,808:70878,819:72621,844:76854,920:77435,932:77933,944:84762,1029:85138,1034:86924,1132:110196,1434:116250,1544:120225,1616:124875,1694:125400,1704:127425,1748:128400,1773:142035,1922:149149,1937:155283,2002:159809,2122:169138,2251:171720,2266
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Micki Grant's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Micki Grant lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Micki Grant describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Micki Grant describes her mother's childhood in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls her experiences of segregated travel in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Micki Grant describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Micki Grant describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Micki Grant describes an heirloom from her maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Micki Grant describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls her mother's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her half brother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Micki Grant talks about being a homebody

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Micki Grant talks about her mother's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers games from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls her Chicago community's African American leaders

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Micki Grant remembers attending Chicago's Woodlawn Union Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her introduction to music

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Micki Grant describes her early music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Micki Grant recalls the various instruments she played

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Micki Grant remembers her time at the Chicago School of Music, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls her cousins' reactions to her orchestral participation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Micki Grant remembers her time at the Chicago School of Music, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Micki Grant describes misconceptions about African American speech, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes misconceptions about African American speech, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers her early poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers her cousin, Jeni LeGon

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls African American television personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her early musical inspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls being prevented from applying for college scholarships

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Micki Grant recalls visiting her father's barbershop in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Micki Grant recalls her father's artistic talents

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her family's political involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Micki Grant describes her early interest in reading

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls seeing entertainers at Chicago's Regal Theater

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Micki Grant remembers movie theaters on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers Chicago's African American theater community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers African American film stars

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Micki Grant remembers meeting Nick Stewart in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Micki Grant reflects upon her education

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Micki Grant narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Micki Grant's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls her move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Micki Grant remembers her development as an actress in Los Angeles

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls performing in 'Fly Blackbird' in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls being cast in Langston Hughes' 'Tambourines to Glory'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about working with Roscoe Lee Browne

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers the opening night of 'Tambourines to Glory'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls touring with 'Brecht on Brecht'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Micki Grant remembers how she became a composer

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Micki Grant remembers meeting Vinnette Carroll for the first time

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her song, 'Step Lively, Boy'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Micki Grant recalls collaborating on 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Micki Grant recalls the origin of the title 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Micki Grant recalls her early work with Vinnette Carroll

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes the impact of the musical, 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her compositions about historic African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Micki Grant talks about inspirational African Americans in theater

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Micki Grant talks about the presence of African Americans on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her theater career in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Micki Grant recalls being cast in the soap opera 'The Edge of Night'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls the public's reaction to her role on 'Another World'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls her training as an actress

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Micki Grant talks about blaxploitation films

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls the awards she won for 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Micki Grant shares her song, 'It Takes a Whole Lot of Human Feeling'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes the musical 'Alice'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Micki Grant describes the musical 'Working'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Micki Grant remembers working with Jennifer Holliday

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Micki Grant reflects upon her partnership with Vinnette Carroll

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about the musical 'The Color Purple'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls joining the cast of 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls acting in 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Micki Grant describes her experiences in South Africa, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Micki Grant describes her experiences in South Africa, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes the film version of 'Having Our Say'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls being cast as Sadie in 'Having Our Say'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Micki Grant reflects upon the beginning of her television career

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls her casting in 'The Edge of Night' and 'Another World'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her family's reactions to her success

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Micki Grant recalls receiving the NAACP Image Award and the WIN Award

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls the critical reception to 'It's So Nice To Be Civilized'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls meeting August Wilson at the National Black Theatre Festival

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her keynote speech at the National Black Theatre Festival

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Micki Grant reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Micki Grant describes her maternal grandmother's ancestry

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Micki Grant talks about the significance of offbeat rhythms

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her goals and accomplishments

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Micki Grant reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Micki Grant identifies her favorite roles as an actress

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls the playwrights with whom she worked as an actress

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about roles for which she was cast

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls experiencing housing discrimination in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls memorable opening nights

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls how 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope' resonated with audiences

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Micki Grant shares the song 'Fighting for Pharaoh'

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Micki Grant narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

2$2

DATape

5$5

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Micki Grant recalls being cast in Langston Hughes' 'Tambourines to Glory'
Micki Grant remembers how she became a composer
Transcript
Right after the--when I did my first Broadway show, which was 'Tambourines to Glory' [Langston Hughes], the director of 'Fly Blackbird,' Jerome Eskow, he came opening night and he said, "I guess we just missed it, what is it we didn't see about her?" (Laughter) They didn't think I could, you know, hold the role here, but it, it's all good lessons, you know.$$So, when did you, how did the 'Tambourines' come about, that, that show? How did you get the role, do you remember--?$$My darling Langston Hughes had seen us in Los Angeles [California], and at one point he told me later he, he enjoyed Thelma Oliver [Krishna Kaur Khalsa] and myself so much he says, "I'm gonna write a show for you guys." He said he was gonna write a show for me--never got around to doing it, but anyway 'Tambourines' was one way of doing it because I had--right after I did 'Fly Blackbird' I got a temporary office job, which if I don't how many of us would make it (laughter) if that were not in the offing and then I was cast in 'Brecht on Brecht' ['Brecht on Brecht: An Improvisation,' Samuel French] which was going to Washington, D.C., and I was told that it would be there for about two weeks and we stayed eleven weeks and somehow or other I again--well (laughter) free to believe it, I have to show you the reviews myself, but anyway I, I came off very, very well in that show, and so when I had came back to New York [New York], the, the news was out and we opened again at Sheridan Square [Sheridan Square Playhouse, New York, New York], and right after that they were--started casting 'Tambourines to Glory,' and I was sent to audition, and that's when I, I--I had it backwards, I sang for--yeah, I sang for the composer [Jobe Huntley] 'cause he's never heard me sing and then when I went they were finding a script for me to read and the producer said, "What is she reading for us for? She doesn't have to read for us," you know, which is the greatest compliment anybody can pay you, you know, and of course with Langston it was just readymade (laughter), you know, the big smile on his face and that's how I got cast in that, my very first Broadway roll and that was another experience with actors that I just had admired and--well I had first worked with [HistoryMaker] Robert Guillaume in 'Fly Blackbird,' and now here I was playing opposite him in 'Tambourines to Glory,' Louis Gossett [HistoryMaker Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr.] was in it Hilda Simms was in it, Rosetta LeNoire was playing my mother [Essie Belle Johnson] and she played my mother on television later. Oh, it was just, just a marvelous cast and Clara Ward, the Clara Ward Singers [The Famous Ward Singers]. It was a wonderful cast and a wonderful time, you know.$So let's talk about you shifting from, and we'll shift back and forth, but you also became a composer and a lyricist. How did that come about?$$Well, I had been writing of course poetry since I was like eight years old and I maybe will show you the book ['A String of Pearls' (ph.)] that was published when I was like twelve. Anyway so I started--it was during that time when everybody was saying what they had to say with folk music and that was just right up my alley, you know, and I couldn't play the guitar that well but if you could get those three or four chords together (laughter), you know, and I just started writing things that I had to say, I started writing songs and then that was during the Vietnam [Vietnam War] era and a lot of people were protesting the war and actually I had--my first attempt at writing a musical was in California with Eddie Beal, and he was gonna be writing the music and I was writing the lyrics, but that never came to be, and that woman [Nora Ephron] who wrote the book has written a book called 'Take it from the Top' ['Revision and Life: Take It From the Top--Again,' Nora Ephron] and that was because of Jeni [HistoryMaker Jeni LeGon] and Georgia Carr had put me in touch with them and I had written--oh, I had written this hit song, 'Pink Shoelaces' ['Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces'] you know, and I got to meet some wonderful people having written that including Jimmy McHugh, can you believe it. I think about (singing) a million dollar baby if I--everybody wanted to know--this is a new era, this is a new time, you know, and maybe this young lady knows what it's about. He invited me to his marvelous house, it was (unclear), just to see if there was something we could do together. I couldn't believe that, I couldn't believe it (laughter). You know I was singing this man's songs when I was a kid back and here I am sitting with Jimmy McHugh. It, it and so by the time I started working on actual shows after I got here [New York, New York], I suppose you could--well, I had written for 'Bon Voyage Titanic,' but I had just written some songs for the show, it was like a revue, and I had at least three songs in the show. I was really cast as a performer, but once, once I was cast I started writing for it.

Kenny Gamble

Singer, songwriter, and producer, Kenny Gamble, was born on August 11, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gamble got his start in the music industry in the early 1960s as a member of a band called the Romeos. From performing, Gamble eventually switched to song writing and producing alongside colleague Leon Huff; the partnership lasted over three decades. Through song writing, Gamble explored the themes of social change and empowerment of inner city inhabitants. Gamble and Huff became known for originating the Philly Soul Sound, a popular genre of the 1970s. Gamble and Huff's hits include: "Expressway to Your Heart," "Only the Strong Survive," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."

In the 1970s, Gamble began to purchase run-down houses, beginning with his own childhood home, to improve conditions in blighted areas. By the early 1990s, Gamble had purchased over one hundred abandoned homes; he and his wife then moved from the suburbs back into the inner city neighborhood in South Philadelphia where he had grown up in order to help rebuild the community.

Gamble founded the nonprofit Universal Companies to establish a workforce development center offering adult education and job training to individuals of all skill levels; a construction company to provide training and jobs; a business support center; a charter school; and other entities aimed at empowering the inner city and its residents. Gamble also founded a nonprofit community development corporation, Universal Community Homes, to provide low- and moderate-income families in Philadelphia with freshly-built or refurbished homes at affordable prices. The community revitalization programs Gamble launched and nurtured created hundreds of jobs; well over one hundred and twenty homes that have been constructed or renovated; and developed over 70,000 square feet of commercial space to support local needs. Gamble received various awards and honors for his work and dedication to the community.

Accession Number

A2002.183

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/7/2002

Last Name

Gamble

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Franklin School of Science & Arts

First Name

Kenny

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

GAM01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

8/11/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mother's Cooking

Short Description

Civic activist and lyricist Kenny Gamble (1943 - ) is part of the songwriting team of Gamble and Huff and an originator of the "Philadelphia sound."

Employment

Universal Companies, Inc.

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenny Gamble interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenny Gamble's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenny Gamble discusses his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenny Gamble considers the significance of knowing one's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenny Gamble describes his mother's background in segregated Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenny Gamble recounts his parents' meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenny Gamble lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenny Gamble describes his childhood environs, South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kenny Gamble recalls gangs in South Philadelphia and a mediation effort in the early 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenny Gamble recalls gang activity in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenny Gamble recalls church activities and entertainment during his childhood in South Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenny Gamble describes worsening crime in his childhood neighborhood, South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenny Gamble gives examples of his creativity during his childhood and youth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenny Gamble evaluates his school performance

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenny Gamble remembers learning guitar from a local musician and trying to play his aunt's piano

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenny Gamble remembers his growing involvement with music as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenny Gamble describes how 'American Bandstand' and white cover groups exploited black music and dance

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kenny Gamble remembers talented musicians from South Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Kenny Gamble briefly shares his early thoughts on the record business

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenny Gamble recalls balancing music-making and side jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenny Gamble recalls studying medical technology and finding the human body inspirational

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenny Gamble tells about the 'day jobs' he and other musicians worked

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenny Gamble recalls encountering discrimination while operating a record shop

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenny Gamble reflects on his first musical hits

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenny Gamble discusses developments in music and radio technology

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenny Gamble details Gamble and Huff's successful collaborations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenny Gamble emphasizes the message in the music

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenny Gamble lauds hip-hop's musical contributions

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenny Gamble discusses his community revitalization project in South Philadelphia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenny Gamble expresses his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth Gamble describes his sources of inspiration

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth Gamble shares his reflections on humanity and spirituality

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth Gamble talks about blacks in politics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth Gamble discusses his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth Gamble considers his legacy