Today is the 110th birthday of Harlem Renaissance author and social activist Langston Hughes.
Tonight, WQXR in New York will air “I, Too, Sing America: Music in the Life of Langston Hughes,” which tells the story of Hughes’ life in music, including the dramatic tale of his collaboration with William Grant Still:
For 15 years, against the backdrop of pre-Civil Rights racism, the two fought to see their opera become a reality. Their historic success came in 1949, when ‘Troubled Island’ – which told the story of Haitian revolution leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines– was staged by the New York City Opera, becoming the first opera by African Americans to ever be staged by a major company.
The documentary will include recordings of select pieces of Hughes’ musical works, some of which were never performed again in their entirety after their original production. It will also feature archival interview tape of William Grant Still discussing ‘Troubled Island.’