We premiered my latest project “Step By Step.” a suite inspired by the story of civil rights icon Ruby Bridges. at Kaul Auditorium last night.
Since we did not have a concert program, I thought this blog would be a good place to provide information for those who are interested in finding out more about the piece and it’s background.
The suite has nine musical numbers, which are interspersed with a narrative that tells the story of Ruby’s experience as the first negro grade school child to attend a white school in New Orleans.
I hoped to tell her story in with instrumental music, songs and spoken word drawn from poetry, oratory and passages from her autobiography entitled “Through My Eyes.”
The songs are:
2. Step by Step
3. Why have you Forsaken Us
4. Summer 1959
5. Tell You This (Jim Crow’s Song)
6. Hold My Hand
7. The Cheerleaders
8. Come In
9. We Rise
The instrumental pieces: Prelude, Summer 1959 and The Cheerleaders each portray particular times or incidents in Ruby’s story.
Some of the source material for the narration (wonderfully done by actor/director Kevin Jones) include:
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
The Supreme court ruling from the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education
Speech to Niagara Movement by W.E.B. Dubois from 1906
“Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from May 4, 1966
and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”
I also benefited from two very enlightening websites
Civil Rights Movement Timeline
Here is a link to the Oregonian A & E preview of the piece.
Here is a link to Ruby Bridges’ website for those who want more information
I hope we can move forward to develop this piece and that it will be performed again soon.