I was a project kid, pretty but hard to make.
Most of the men I let into my life started in pursuit but stayed as teachers.
I was bright and gave my full attention to any man who was willing to teach me about the world of art.
The music I knew was the music of my parents and the other kids in the projects.
From my Father I got Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, and Skeeter Davis.
From my Mother I got Dinah Shore and Kitty Wells.
From the other kids in the projects I got Motown.
With the music of Motown I learned I could dance and for me dancing is still spiritual.
Everyone said I moved like a black kid, and it was true.
Black folks were my friends and neighbors.
As far as I was concerned I was a Black kid with pale skin.
I figured that Blackness was as much about class as it is about race.
My friend Paul knew I knew my ‘place’ in Charleston’s antiquated class system and that I wanted out.
Paul lived in the rich part of Charleston; the historic district near Battery Park.
He invited me to lunch one especially bright spring day.
He poured tea and showed me a decorative plate that was inlaid with hundreds of shimmering butterfly wings.
Paul liked exquisite objects.
We stepped onto the patio that overlooked his garden and I brought a branch of wisteria to my nose.
Paul said that he wanted me to hear a record.
He said he wanted my opinion.
Then he placed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Minor on the turntable.
I heard the needle drop, and then a timpani followed by woodwinds.
I listened as Beethoven told me a story.
I had never heard a story more complex and profound.
It was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen or touched.
And I never stopped listening….
Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
by Yehudi Menuhin, violin Wilhelm Furtwangler, cond Philharmonia Orchestra of London Recorded: 1953
- Allegro ma non troppo