Black People : Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Writspirit, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. Writspirit

    Writspirit Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Jul 7, 2008
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    Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund Opens Doors for Aspiring Music Students
    By Deardra Shuler

    Before composer/arranger/musical director Luther Henderson passed in 2003, his wife Billie Allen-Henderson discussed with him how strongly she felt about having a scholarship in his name for young musicians who were entering into the field of music. With the help of Juilliard, Billie’s dream will come to fruition through “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Luther Henderson,” a fundraising concert gala held in tribute to Mr. Henderson and the Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund, slated to take place at The Juilliard School’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater, located at 155 W. 65th Street, NYC, on Monday, October 6th at 6:30 p.m.

    Luther Henderson was a gifted and talented African American arranger, composer and orchestrator recognized for creating music for choreographic movement. Acknowledged as one of the great music masters of the 20th century, Luther graduated Juilliard in 1942. He is well known for contributing to the success of more than 50 Broadway musicals including Jelly’s Last Jam and Ain’t Misbehavin'.

    “The gala is about the celebration of Luther’s life and music. The Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund is being established to help fund the education of a young music student or students. I would love to see a class of at least 4 or 5 students benefiting from the monies we raise for the fund. Hopefully, throughout the year we will have letter writing campaigns and fund raisers here and there. I would like future generations to know about Luther and understand the history,” remarked Ms. Henderson.

    Linda Twine, musical director of Color Purple, will be working on the gala. “Linda is a talented woman whom I know will bring some of the best musicians together to be part of this show. Director George C. Wolfe (whose movie, “Nights in Rodanthe” which stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane, will be released the end of the month), is directing the show on Monday, October 6th as well as co-hosting a salon with me on Sunday, October 5th. I am expecting a large crowd of old and new friends for a late afternoon get together of food, music, conversation and fundraising,” remarked the pioneer Broadway thespian who worked with the likes of Ethel Waters, Godfrey Cambridge, Lou Gossett, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, filmmaker William Greaves and Garland Lee Thompson of the Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop.

    Billie is delighted by Mr. Wolfe’s participation and that of the Honorable Chairs, Governor David Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson. Also, on hand to put their monies and talents behind the project is Nancy Wilson who will sing the song, “10 Good Years,” a song Luther wrote the music for. “Savion Glover and the original cast members of “Aint Misbehavin,” a play in which Luther served as musical director, will be there. The Canadian Brass Quintet whom Luther crossed over from classical to contemporary jazz is coming. Luther loved working with the Quintet because he used to say that they could play anything he could write so he could let his imagination go,” commented the former classical dancer.

    The impressive list of luminaries supporting the show include Ari Guzelimian, the Dean of Juilliard, Tamara Tunie, Latanya Richardson, Hattie Winston, Harold Wheeler, Mercedes Ellington, S. Epatha Merkerson, David and Joyce Dinkins, Basil Paterson, Charles Rangel, Ruby Dee, Phylicia Rashad and many others.

    Luther worked with Savion Glover and George C. Wolfe in Jelly’s Last Jam. “George directed Jelly’s Last Jam and wrote it for Broadway. It was a tremendously successful show about Jelly Roll Morton. Luther did the music and Susan Berkinhead wrote the lyrics. Savion Glover played the young Jelly in Jelly’s Last Jam. Then Gregory Hines played the mature Jelly. Savion is eager to support the scholarship fund. Oftentimes working together on creative projects tends to draw people closer together. You become like a family and are surrounded by people who know you, love you and support you, even though at times there are artistic differences. People frequently become lifetime friends” remarked Billie who appeared in the soap opera “Edge of Night.”

    “Our government doesn’t support the arts as much as other countries do. Luther finished the Juilliard School of Music when it was the Juilliard Institute and there were no scholarships available to him. Working with this project has been exciting. It is a venture that I have consumed with passion and now finally it’s happening. It’s happening October 6th at the Peter J. Sharpe Theatre at Juilliard. We expect a full house and a wonderful show. I am envisioning this as a launch with our first scholar being announced. We are not just telling these students we are giving them money to go to school. We plan to mentor them into a profession, introduce them to important orchestras and allow them to meet the powers behind Broadway shows,” said Billie who played the role of WAC Billie for 5 years on the Phil Silvers Show.

    Well known for his rhythmic syncopation of Broadway melodies, mastery in orchestration, arranging and musical directorship, the twice Tony Award nominated Henderson served as music director for Aint Misbehavin’ whereby he adapted the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller. Henderson received Tony nominations for Best Musical Score in Jelly’s Last Jam and Best Orchestration for the show “Play On.” He composed the orchestrations for dance numbers in Broadway’s “Flower Drum Song,” and arranged over 100 songs during his lengthy association with The Canadian Brass. Luther Henderson also scored the orchestral works of Duke Ellington and taught jazz courses at Juilliard. He won the Jazz Masters Award and the Pioneer Award with wife, Billie Allen-Henderson, at the AUDELCO “VIV Awards.

    Major underwriting and funding opportunities are available ranging from $1,500 - $25,000. Tickets for the spectacular star-studded fundraising gala are available at several support levels ranging from $50 - $1,000. Those seeking to support the Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund can e-mail [email protected] or obtain information and purchase tickets by calling (212) 247–8705.