Thursday, May 25, 2017

A00727 - Barbara Smith Conrad, Singer at Center of Integration Dispute





Barbara Smith Conrad, Singer at Center of Integration Dispute, Dies at 79






Photo

Barbara Smith Conrad at her home in Manhattan in 2011. CreditRobert Caplin for The New York Times

In spring 1957, two weeks before the opening of Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas” at the University of Texas at Austin, Barbara Smith, a 19-year-old mezzo-soprano, received some bad news. She would not be appearing as Dido, a role she had been rehearsing for months.
Ms. Smith was black. The singer cast as Aeneas was white. In the South, then emerging only slowly from strict segregation, this was a problem, even though the two principal characters do not kiss, embrace or even touch.
Joe Chapman, a Democrat in the State Legislature from Ms. Smith’s own district in the pine country of Northeast Texas, had taken the matter up with Logan Wilson, the university’s president. During their conversation, Mr. Chapman had told him that the opera’s casting might be bad publicity for the school, especially since the Legislature was preparing to vote on an appropriations bill.
Three days before the opera was scheduled to open, The Houston Post broke the story, under the headline “Negro Girl Out of UT Opera Cast.” The Daily Texan, the student newspaper, followed with an article the next day. Its reporter asked Mr. Chapman, a former Texas railroad commissioner, if he believed that the Legislature had the right to dictate policy to the university.
“There’s no question about it,” Mr. Chapman said.
In a statement, the university said that it had made the casting change “to ensure Miss Smith’s well-being and to squelch any possibility that her appearance would precipitate a cut in the university’s appropriations.”
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More than 100 students rose in protest. Eight state legislators expressed indignation. A petition circulated, gathering 1,500 signatures. Mr. Chapman was hanged in effigy from a balcony in the State Capitol.



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Ms. Conrad just before entering the University of Texas in 1956. CreditWard Photo, via Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Ms. Smith tried to smooth matters over. “After the first shock and hurt had passed,” she told The Daily Texan, “I began to realize that the ultimate success of integration at the university is much more important than my appearance in the opera.”
As wire services and Time magazine picked up the story, national figures spoke out, including Sidney Poitier and Eleanor Roosevelt. The singer Harry Belafonte stepped forward, offering to pay for Ms. Smith’s musical education at any school in the world.
She chose to remain at Texas and, after earning her music degree in 1959, went on to a successful operatic career under the name Barbara Smith Conrad, appearing at major opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and performing in concert with leading symphony orchestras.
“My heart wanted to go to Fisk,” Ms. Conrad told The New York Times in 2011, referring to the historically black university in Nashville. “But you didn’t run away if your staying could make a difference — it could encourage other black kids. Mostly, it was a matter of pride.”
Ms. Conrad died on Monday in Edison, N.J. She was 79. The cause has not yet been determined, said Bettye Neal, a niece. Ms. Conrad had advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Barbara Louise Smith was born on Aug. 11, 1937, in Atlanta, Tex., south of Texarkana. Growing up, she divided her time between Queen City, where she attended school, and the family house in Center Point, an all-black town near Pittsburg, Tex., that had been founded by freed slaves, among them her forebears. It no longer exists.
Both her parents were college-educated teachers. Her mother was the former Jerrie Lee Cash. Her father, Conrad, served in the Army during World War II and the Korean War. When Barbara began her singing career and applied for an Actors Equity card, she took his name to avoid confusion with another Equity member with the same first, middle and last name.



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Ms. Conrad as Amneris in the Cincinnati Opera’s production of “Aida” in 1976. Creditvia University of Texas at Austin

She grew up singing in the town’s Baptist choir and at home, where an older brother accompanied her on the piano. She idolized Marian Anderson, the black contralto and civil rights activist, whom she later played on television in the 1977 mini-series “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.”
In 1956, she became one of 104 black undergraduates admitted to the University of Texas for the first time. (The first black graduate students had been admitted in 1950.) “I didn’t grow up around theaters or operas or concert halls,” she told The Austin American-Statesman in 2009. “I just wanted to be a singer. I didn’t know the specifics.”
In her sophomore year, a member of the music faculty heard her singing in a practice room and invited her to audition for the part of Dido. She did, successfully.
As word spread, she began receiving threatening phone calls. Two men attacked her as she walked home one evening to her off-campus housing. “They meant to scare me,” she told The American-Statesman. “They did. But I wasn’t going to let go of the role.”
The prize was wrested from her after an anonymous employee at the university complained to Jerry Sadler, a Democratic legislator from Percilla. At a weekly breakfast attended by 40 legislators from East Texas, including Mr. Chapman, Mr. Sadler railed against the mixed-race casting.
“I mentioned appropriations and as a matter of fact voted against those for the university because they have Negro undergraduates,” he later told The Houston Post. “Two hours after I spoke, Chapman called to tell me that Wilson said the Negro girl would not be in the cast.”
After graduating, Ms. Smith, as she was still known, went to New York, where Mr. Belafonte introduced her to his friends in the arts. Mrs. Roosevelt paid her fare.

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In 1965, she appeared as Bess in the New York City Opera’s production of “Porgy and Bess,” a work she revisited in 1985, when she sang the role of Maria at the Metropolitan Opera, with Grace Bumbry as Bess and Simon Estes as Porgy.
She performed mezzo roles with several opera companies in the 1960s and ’70s. After a year with the Vienna State Opera in 1981, she signed a contract with the Met, where she sang for the next seven years. She made her debut as Annina, in Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” with Tatiana Troyanos, Kiri Te Kanawa and Kurt Moll, who died in March. She gave her final performance at the Met as Amneris in Verdi’s “Aida,” with Aprile Millo and Pl├ícido Domingo in 1989.
She also sang from the mezzo repertoire with leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the London, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit symphonies. She was a founder and the vocal director of the Wagner Theater Program at the Manhattan School of Music, which trained students for Wagnerian roles.
In the 1980s, the University of Texas approached Ms. Conrad to make amends, naming her a distinguished alumna in 1985 and a year later creating a scholarship in her name. The university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History later produced a documentary about her life, “When I Rise,” which was broadcast on PBS in 2011.
“She was someone who needed apologizing to, and no one had done it,” Don Carleton, the executive director of the Briscoe Center, said in a telephone interview. Ms. Conrad taught master classes at the school, for which she made several promotional ads, and donated her papers to its library.
Ms. Conrad, whose marriage ended in divorce, leaves no immediate survivors.
In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution honoring Ms. Conrad for her achievements. In return, she gave a performance of “Amazing Grace” in the rotunda of the Capitol.
“She believed in forgiveness and reconciliation,” Dr. Carleton said. “She wanted to be treated as someone who accomplished things. She did not regard being a victim as an accomplishment.”

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Barbara Smith Conrad (August 11, 1937 - May 22, 2017)[1] was an American operatic mezzo-soprano of international acclaim. In 1957, she became the focus of a racial controversy revolving around her role in a student opera at The University of Texas at Austin. Pressure from the Texas Legislature forced her removal from the cast, and her story received national media coverage.
Conrad went on to perform with Metropolitan OperaVienna State Opera, Teatro Nacional in Venezuela, and many others. She complemented her performing activities with artist residencies and master classes, establishing herself as one of the foremost builders of voice both in the U.S. and abroad. She was the co-director and co-founder of the Wagner Theater Program, and maintained a private vocal studio in Manhattan. Conrad worked closely with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, which is the home of the university's Endowment for the Study of American Spirituals. She was the subject of the film When I Rise, produced by the Briscoe Center and directed by Mat Hames.

Early years[edit]

Born Barbara Smith, she was raised in Center Point near Pittsburg, Texas.[2][3] The youngest of five children, Smith displayed an early love and aptitude for music. As early as age six, Smith performed with her brother the complicated music of Mozart. Her musical roots can be traced to her family's home in the east Texas community of Center Point. It was here that she and her siblings explored a variety of musical genres on the family piano and in their local Baptist church.[2]

University years[edit]

Smith was admitted into the University of Texas at Austin in 1956. She was part of the first class of African American undergraduate students to attend the university. In 1957, Smith auditioned for, and was awarded, the leading role in the university's production of the opera Dido and Aeneas. Her role of Dido, the Queen of Carthage, placed her opposite a white student as Aeneas, her lover.
The casting of Smith incited a campus-wide controversy that escalated to the Texas legislature. The president of the university was advised to remove her from the cast. Her story was covered by national news media, prompting a carte blanche offer from Harry Belafonte to underwrite her studies at the institution of her choice. However, she chose to remain at the University of Texas at Austin.[2]
She was one of the early pioneers in the movement to create a more open and diverse university community, and her accomplishments and fortitude as a student represent an important chapter in the university's history. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas in 1959. After graduation, she joined Equity, the entertainment labor union. Equity already had a Barbara Smith registered. It was at this time that she began using her father's first name, Conrad.[3]

Career[edit]

Conrad performed leading operatic roles with the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Nacional in Venezuela, Houston Grand OperaNew York City OperaPittsburgh Opera, and many other opera companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America. She performed with the Metropolitan Opera for eight years, from 1982 to 1989, under the direction of some of the world's leading conductors, including Maazel, Bernstein, and Levine. She performed much of the mezzo-soprano concert repertoire with the world's greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the London, Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit symphonies.[2]
In addition to her operatic stage roles, Conrad played Marian Anderson in the 1977 ABC movie Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, and in 1994 followed that performance with a European concert/recital tour commemorating the renowned contralto. In 1987, she was invited by President Reagan to sing at the White House in honor of Lady Bird Johnson's seventy-fifth birthday. A personal highlight for her was an invitation to perform for Pope John Paul II during his 1995 visit to New York City. Among her many other accomplishments was her recording of a collection of Negro spirituals with the choir of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, released on the Naxos label to critical acclaim.[2]
Conrad complemented her performing activities with artist residencies and master classes, establishing herself as one of the foremost builders of voice both in the U.S. and abroad. She was the co-director and co-founder of the Wagner Theater Program at the Manhattan School of Music, and maintained a private vocal studio in Manhattan.

Legacy[edit]

When I Rise[edit]

When I Rise is a feature-length documentary directed by Mat Hames and produced by award-winning producers James Moll and Michael Rosen about Conrad, a gifted University of Texas music student who finds herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggling against the odds and ultimately ascending to the heights of international opera.[4]
Festivals:
  • WORLD PREMIERE: South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, Texas (March 2010)
  • Dallas International Film Festival, Dallas, Texas (April 2010)
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Toronto, Canada (May 2010)
  • Indianapolis International Film Festival (July 2010)
  • New York City International Film Festival (August 2010)
  • New Orleans Film Festival (October 2010)
  • Starz Denver Film Festival (November 2010)
  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January 2011)
  • San Diego Black Film Festival (January 2011)
Awards and Nominations:
  • Winner: Audience Award Feature - Indianapolis International Film Festival
  • Winner: Black Expressions Award - Indianapolis International Film Festival
  • Nominee: Music Documentary Award – International Documentary Awards (IDA)
  • Winner: Social Justice Award for Documentary Film - The Fund for Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara International Film Festival)

University of Texas[edit]

In the fall of 2010, the University of Texas introduced five new broadcast advertising spots featuring the voice of Barbara Smith Conrad.[5]

Awards and Honors[edit]

2013 Life Time Achievement Award, National Black History Month in Palm Springs CA. 2011 Texas Medal of Arts Awards - Lifetime Achievement[6]
2009 Texas House of Representatives passes a Resolution to Honor Barbara Smith Conrad [7]
1986 Barbara Smith Conrad Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Fine Arts, at The University of Texas at Austin [2]
1985 Distinguished Alumnus Award - The Ex-Students' Association of The University of Texas[2]

************************************************************************************************************
*Barbara Conrad, an African American operatic mezzo-soprano known for having been the focus of a racial controversy in 1957 revolving around her role in a student opera at the University of Texas at Austin, was born in Atlanta, Texas (August 11). 

Barbara Smith Conrad (b. Barbara Smith, August 11, 1937, Atlanta, Texas - d. May 22, 2017, Edison, New Jersey) was raised in Center Point, near Pittsburg, Texas. The youngest of five children, Smith displayed an early love and aptitude for music. As early as age six, Smith performed with her brother the complicated music of Mozart. Her musical roots can be traced to her family's home in the east Texas community of Center Point. It was here that she and her siblings explored a variety of musical genres on the family piano and in their local Baptist church.
Smith was admitted into the University of Texas at Austin in 1956. She was part of the first class of African American undergraduate students to attend the university. In 1957, Smith auditioned for, and was awarded, the leading role in the university's production of the opera Dido and Aeneas. Her role of Dido, the Queen of Carthage, placed her opposite a white student as Aeneas, her lover.
The casting of Smith incited a campus-wide controversy that escalated to the Texas legislature. The president of the university was advised to remove her from the cast.  Pressure from the Texas Legislature ultimately forced her removal from the cast, and her story received national media coverage. Her story was covered by national news media, prompting a carte blanche offer from Harry Belafonte to underwrite her studies at the institution of her choice. However, she chose to remain at the University of Texas at Austin.
She was one of the early pioneers in the movement to create a more open and diverse university community, and her accomplishments and fortitude as a student represent an important chapter in the university's history. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas in 1959. After graduation, she joined Equity, the entertainment labor union. Equity already had a Barbara Smith registered. It was at this time that she began using her father's first name, Conrad, as her last name.
As Barbara Smith Conrad, Conrad went on to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Company, Vienna State Opera, Teatro Nacional in Venezuela, and many others. She complemented her performing activities with artist residencies and master classes, establishing herself as one of the foremost builders of voice both in the United States and abroad. She was the co-director and co-founder of the Wagner Theater Program, and maintained a private vocal studio in Manhattan. Conrad worked closely with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, which is the home of the university's Endowment for the Study of American Spirituals. She was the subject of the film When I Rise, produced by the Briscoe Center and directed by Mat Hames.
Conrad performed leading operatic roles with the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Nacional in Venezuela, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and many other opera companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America. She performed with the Metropolitan Opera for eight years, from 1982 to 1989, under the direction of some of the world's leading conductors, including Maazel, Bernstein, and Levine. She performed much of the mezzo-soprano concert repertoire with the world's greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the London, Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit symphonies.
In addition to her operatic stage roles, Conrad played Marian Anderson in the 1977 ABC movie Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, and in 1994 followed that performance with a European concert/recital tour commemorating the renowned contralto. In 1987, Conrad was invited by President Reagan to sing at the White House in honor of Lady Bird Johnson's seventy-fifth birthday. A personal highlight for her was an invitation to perform for Pope John Paul II during his 1995 visit to New York City. Among her many other accomplishments was her recording of a collection of Negro spirituals with the choir of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, released on the Naxos label to critical acclaim.
Conrad complemented her performing activities with artist residencies and master classes, establishing herself as one of the foremost builders of voice both in the United States and abroad. She was the co-director and co-founder of the Wagner Theater Program at the Manhattan School of Music, and maintained a private vocal studio in Manhattan.
When I Rise is a feature-length documentary directed by Mat Hames and produced by award-winning producers James Moll and Michael Rosen about Conrad, a gifted University of Texas music student who finds herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggling against the odds and ultimately ascending to the heights of international opera.
Conrad died on May 22, 2017, in Edison, New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A00726 - Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano

*Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano from 1963 to 2014, was born in Kano, Northern Nigeria (July 25).

Ado Abdullahi Bayero (b. July 25, 1930, Kano, Northern Nigeria – d. June 6, 2014, Kano, Nigeria) was seen as one of Nigeria's most prominent and revered Muslim leaders.  He was the son of Abdullahi Bayero son of Muhammad Abbas. Ado Bayero was the 13th Fulani emir since the Fulani War of Usman dan Fodio, when the Fulani took over the Hausa city-states. He was one of the strongest and most powerful emirs in the history of the Hausa land. He was renowned for his abundant wealth, maintained by means of stock market investments and large-scale agricultural entrepreneurship both at home and abroad.
Ado Bayero was the son of Abdullahi Bayero, a former emir, who reigned for 27 years. 
Bayero was born to the family of Hajiya Hasiya and Abdullahi Bayero and into the Fulani Sullubawa clan that has presided over the emirate of Kano since 1819. He was the eleventh child of his father and the second of his mother. At the age of seven, he was sent to live with Maikano Zagi.
Bayero started his education in Kano studying Islam, after which he attended Kano Middle School. He graduated from the School of Arabic Studies in 1947. He then worked as a bank clerk for the Bank of British West Africa until 1949, when he joined the Kano Native Authority. He attended Zaria Clerical College in 1952. In 1954, he won a seat to the Northern regional House of Assembly.
He was head of the Kano Native Authority police division from 1957 until 1962, during which he tried to minimize the practice of briefly detaining individuals and political opponents on the orders of powerful individuals in Kano. He then became the Nigerian ambassador to Senegal. During this time he enrolled in a French language class. In 1963, he succeeded Muhammadu Inuwa as Emir of Kano.
Muhammadu Sanusi who was Ado Bayero's half brother ruled after their father from 1953 to 1963. Following his dethronement in 1963, Muhammadu Inuwa ruled only for three months. After Muhammadu's death, Ado Bayero ascended the throne in October 1963. Bayero was the longest-serving emir in Kano's history. Bayero's Palace played host to official visits by many government officials and foreigners.  
Bayero became emir during the first republic, at a time when Nigeria was going through rapid social and political changes and regional, sub-regional and ethnic discord was increasing. In his first few years, two pro-Kano political movements gained support among some Kano elites. The Kano People's Party emerged during the reign of Muhammadu Inuwa  and supported the deposed Emir Sanusi, but it soon evaporated. The Kano State Movement emerged towards the end of 1965 and favored more economic autonomy for the province.
The death in 1966 of many political agitators from northern Nigeria, and the subsequent establishment of a unitary state, consolidated a united front in the northern region but also resulted in a spate of violence there, including in Kano. Bayero's admirers credit him with bringing calm and stability during this and later crises in Kano.
As emir, Bayero became a patron of Islamic scholarship and embraced Western education as a means to succeed in a modern Nigeria. The constitutional powers of the emir were whittled down by the military regimes between 1966 and 1979. The Native Authority Police and Prisons Department was abolished, the emir's judicial council was supplanted by another body, and local government reforms in 1968, 1972, and 1976 reduced the powers of the emir. During the second republic, he witnessed hostilities from the People's Redemption Party led government of Abubakar Rimi.
In 1981, Governor Abubakar Rimi restricted traditional homage paid by village heads to Ado Bayero and excised some domains from his emirate. In 1984, a travel ban was placed on the emir and his friend Okunade Sijuwade.
In 2002, Bayero led a Kano elders forum in opposing the onshore and offshore abrogation bill.
Ado Bayero was seen as a vocal critic of the Islamist group Boko Haram who strongly opposed their campaign against western education.

On January 19, 2013, Bayero survived an assassination attempt blamed on the Islamist group which left two of his sons injured and his driver and bodyguard dead, among others. 


Ado Bayero died on June 6, 2014. He was succeeded by his brother's grandson Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A00725 - Dennis Edwards, Judge Who Presided Over Trial of Lennon's Killer

Dennis Edwards Jr., the judge who presided over the trial of Mark David ChapmanJohn Lennon’s killer, in 1981, died on April 13 at his home in Manhattan. He was 95.
The death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Ayanna Behin.
Mr. Edwards had served for more than 15 years as a law secretary to the New York Supreme Court before Mayor Robert F. Wagner appointed him a judge on the criminal court in 1965. He was reappointed by Mayors John V. Lindsay in 1972 and Edward I. Koch in 1981.
At the criminal court, which handles arraignments and misdemeanor crimes, he set bail, heard testimony and pronounced sentences (or dismissed charges) for a long procession of Vietnam War protesters, the restaurateur Toots Shor (accused of assaulting an unruly customer in 1967) and a teenage robbery suspect who charged the bench and hit Judge Edwards over the head with his shoe.
His most famous case came as an acting Supreme Court justice in 1981, when Mr. Chapman, against the advice of his lawyer, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Lennon outside his apartment building, the Dakota, in Manhattan in December 1980. The charge was second-degree murder.
On accepting the plea, Judge Edwards told Mr. Chapman that he would hand down a sentence no longer than 20 years to life, calling the maximum sentence of 25 years to life “inappropriate” because the defendant had voluntarily entered a guilty plea.
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In a highly unusual move, Judge Edwards closed the proceedings to the public and press. A court transcript showed that he had expressed worries that if he chose not to accept the plea deal, his decision, once publicized, might prejudice Mr. Chapman’s trial.
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Dennis Edwards Jr., left, being sworn in as a judge.
At sentencing, Judge Edwards recommended that Mr. Chapman receive psychiatric treatment during his confinement. In 1984, a state appeals court upheld his decision to accept Mr. Chapman’s guilty plea. Mr. Chapman’s lawyer had asked that it be voided on the grounds that his client was mentally incompetent at the time.
Mr. Chapman is still serving his sentence at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y. He was denied parole for the ninth time in August 2016.
Dennis Edwards Jr. was born on Aug. 19, 1921, in Harlem, to immigrants from Barbados. His father ran a real estate company, and his mother, the former Gladys Wilson, was a homemaker.
After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in government in 1941 from Washington Square College, as the Manhattan undergraduate school of New York University was then known.
He had not thought of becoming a lawyer, but to prepare himself for a political science course he joined his local Democratic Party organization, whose members urged him to study law.
He was admitted to Harvard Law School and, after graduating in 1944, took a job in the legal department of the Service Transportation Corporation. In 1948 he was appointed law secretary to the State Supreme Court, where he served under Justices Benjamin F. Schreiber and Henry Clay Greenberg.
In 1983 Gov. Mario M. Cuomo appointed him to the State Court of Claims, where he served until his retirement in 1989.
His wife, the former Dorothy Fairclough, died last year. In addition to his granddaughter, he is survived by two daughters, Lynne Edwards Engelskirchen and Denise Edwards Young; two other grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.