Vinnette Justine Carroll’s professionalism in theatrical arts paved way for black professionals in the industry. She was an actress and playwright who expressed herself through gospel music. In a 1979 interview, Carroll told The Times, “I decided my salvation was to create something for myself, a theater for myself and others where your main worry wasn’t getting a TV series. When I first heard gospel -- I’d grown up in the Anglican church -- I just flipped. You mean religion can be like this?”
She was the first black female to direct on Broadway as well as receive a Tony nomination for direction in Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, a gospel-infused musical revue. The show was conceived by Carroll and Micki Grant supplied the music and lyrics. It was nominated for four Tony Awards. Four years later, she was reunited with Grant, along with Alex Bradford, in the production of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, which earned them three more Tony nominations.
Perhaps nothing sums up Carroll’s indomitable spirit better than her own words. In a 1967 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carroll shared part of her experience as an artist, saying: “I have had a great deal of hurt in the theater both as a Negro and as a woman, but I don’t get immobilized by it.”
Alvin Ailey - Dancer, Choreographer, Artistic Director
When it comes to the performing arts and certainly to dance, there are few people more worthy of admiration, of inspiration and imitation than Alvin Ailey. He was both uniquely gifted and qualified to tell the African-American experience which he lived and saw and reacted to through the art of dance.
One of my most treasured experiences and memories of being here in New York City is getting to watch the Alvin Ailey American dance concerts each winter and summer. They consist of powerful and moving performances by amazingly talented dancers. And so it was only natural that my thoughts would go to the stories and emotions told through the pieces that Alvin Ailey choreographed himself, namely his iconic Revelations, which was inspired by his involvement within the Southern Black church. In fact, all of his work came forth from the people and places and experiences of his life.
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