Filed Under:

A Civil Rights Figure's Long Road — To Carnegie Hall

You know the old joke: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." Myrlie Evers-Williams took a different route.

Her late husband, Medgar Evers, was the Mississippi head of the NAACP; he was assassinated for his work in 1963. Evers-Williams wound up moving to Southern California, where she became an educational, corporate and political leader and, in the 1990s, chairwoman of the NAACP.

But music has always been one of her loves, and she's about to fulfill a longtime dream: Myrlie Evers-Williams is playing Carnegie Hall, backed by the genre-spanning orchestra Pink Martini. They'll take the stage for the second of two shows this evening.

"Music and I have been partners for a very, very long time," Evers-Williams says. "My aunt and my grandmother, the two women who reared me, both played the piano, so they decided around age 4 that their child should take piano lessons. My aunt, I recall how she put aside the 25 cents every week for my music lessons. She wanted so badly for me to perform as an artist, a classical artist. Of course, during the time that I was growing up, at that time you found very few African-Americans — or Negroes, as we were called then — performing classical music anyplace. But she had set her sights very, very high for me, and she said, 'Carnegie Hall is it, baby. That's where you're gonna perform one day.' And, as a nice child, I said, 'Oh, yes, I'll be there.' "

Speaking with NPR's Scott Simon, Myrlie Evers-Williams discusses meeting her late husband in college, connecting with Pink Martini and dealing with nerves. Click the audio link on this page to hear more.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

So This Is How They Do It! Zebras Getting Stripes

The pink on a flamingo? Stripes on a zebra? Spots on a giraffe? All explained. Simply. Elegantly. Oddly.
NPR

Can Wal-Mart Really Make Organic Food Cheap For Everyone?

The giant retailer says it's adding a new line of organic food that's at least 25 percent cheaper. But a large-scale production and supply of organic food likely can't be achieved overnight.
NPR

Obama Adds Malaysia To His Asia Itinerary

Obama travels to Malaysia next week, where the government is under fire for the handling of a missing airliner. NPR's Wade Goodwyn talks to Josh Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations.
NPR

Watch For The Blind Lets You Feel Time Passing

A new watch allows the blind to feel time on their wrists. Designer Hyungsoo Kim tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn his watch allows users to tell time accurately without revealing their disabilities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.