In an abandoned house in St. Anne, Illinois, an astonishing treasure trove of handwritten sheet music was discovered in 2009. That cache was the life’s work of composer Florence Price, the first African-American woman to have her work performed by major orchestras. But Price’s story is so much bigger – and so much wilder! – than even that headline-grabbing discovery could show. Her astonishing contributions to classical music are finally getting the attention – and the praise – they deserve.
Our guests are Dr. Guthrie Ramsey and Dr. Karen Walwyn, with music by Chineke! Orchestra, Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, Dr. Casey Robards, The Women’s Philharmonic, and Karen Walwyn.
Learn more about (and donate to) Karen Walwyn’s Florence Price Project here. Watch Guthrie Ramsey’s newest music video “What a Beautiful City” or buy his new album here. Stream The Caged Bird, James Greeson’s wonderful documentary on Florence Price here.
BONUS: Hear deleted scenes from the episode with guests Karen Walwyn and Guthrie Ramsey.
Guest Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is a music historian, pianist, composer, and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, and The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop and recently edited and wrote a foreword for Rae Linda Brown’s The Heart of A Woman: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price. As a producer, label head, and bandleader, he’s released five recording projects, including A Spiritual Vibe, vol. 1 and has performed at The Blue Note, The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and Harlem Stage. He recently scored the 2019 prize-winning documentary Making Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South and his documentary Amazing: The Tests and Triumph of Bud Powell was a selection of the BlackStar Film Festival. He co-curated the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s 2009 exhibition Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment and was a consultant and narrator in the 2020 Emmy Award winning HBO documentary Apollo: The Soul of American Culture.
Guest Karen Walwyn, Concert Pianist, Composer and an Albany Recording Artist, is the first female African American pianist/ composer to receive the Steinway Artist Award. As a Composer, she received the Global Award: Gold Medal -Award of Excellence for her recording of her composition entitled Reflections on 9/11, which was first premiered in full at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. As a Mellon Faculty Fellow at the John Hope Franklin Institute, Duke University, Walwyn composed her debut choral work entitled Of Dance & Struggle: A Musical Tribute on the Life of Nelson Mandela. She is Area Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Howard University, and has performed throughout the contiguous United States, Hawaii, West Indies and the Virgin Islands.
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