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

In Pakistan, Literary Spring Is Both Renaissance And Resistance

For the past decade Pakistan has faced war, political instability and the rise of religious extremism. But those crises have fueled a new generation of Pakistani writers and artists.
NPR

Behold Ukrainian Easter Art: Incredible, Inedible Eggs

Even 2,000 years ago, people seemed to know that the egg could be a source of life. And an ancient art form has been passed down, transforming a symbolic source of food into a dazzling decoration.
NPR

Obama's Tax Rate Rose — And He Can't Blame Anyone But Himself

President Obama, like many wealthy Americans, is paying more of his income to the IRS. He and the first lady paid $98,169 in taxes for 2013 on income of $481,098.
NPR

Between Heartbleed And Homeland, NSA Treads Cybersecurity Gray Area

Amid controversy over the Heartbleed security bug, the White House clarified how U.S. intelligence agencies must handle such bugs. Bloomberg Businessweek cybersecurity reporter Michael Riley explains.

Leave a Comment

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