Sunday, January 23, 2011

Listen NOW to the Maya Angelou Special!

On the Paul Leslie Hour we explore music and interview the most creative and iconic people of our time. On this episode of The Paul Leslie Hour, it is our honor to present CALYPSO AND POETRY: A Celebration of Maya Angelou. This episode features an interview with the one and only Dr. Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is one of the most influential voices in poetry, literature and our popular culture. She has gathered fame as a poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, spoken word artist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Maya Angelou has written several books that are required reading in schools and universities including her series of six autobiographical volumes including the highly popular I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In 1993, Dr. Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" for Clinton's Presidential Inauguration. In 1995, she was recognized for having the longest running record for the Paperback Nonfiction Best Seller List for the New York Times.

The New York Times Book Review once wrote that Maya Angelou "writes like a song, and like the truth. The wisdom, rue, and humor of her storytelling are borne on a lifting rhythm completely her own. This interview, among other things will explore what is perhaps a connection between the rhythm of words and the rhythm of dance. In Dr. Angelou's case, you may notice some interesting parallels... Many may not realize that the foundation for Dr. Angelou's beginnings in the arts were with dance and music.

In 1954 and 1955, Maya Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television and in 1957 recorded her first record album entitled "Calypso Lady." She was Maya Angelou, Calypso singer. During this period there was something known as the calypso explosion. Harry Belafonte's album entitled "Calypso" was the first album to sell one million copies. Many of the songs were written by Irving Burgie or Lord Burgess as he was known. Although purists would sometimes dispute that those songs were not true calypso songs, two of the songs were Americanized covers of true Calypso songs. The album and Harry Belafonte created an interest in calypso music, which is a genre of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad.

Maya Angelou was in fact a calypso singer and we are happy to present an interview about this overlooked passion of hers and it's role in her development. Listen in and enjoy the rare recordings and we invite you to read along with our typed transcript

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