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African American Composers Initiative a Local Musical Gem

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Every year, the African American Composer Initiative celebrates a rich musical heritage in danger of being forgotten. (Photo: Courtesy of the African American Composer Initiative)

The African American Composers Initiative presents its annual benefit concert Jan. 27 and 28 at the Performing Arts Center of Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. The program is called “Out of the Blues: The Gift of Song.”

There are works old, there are works new, and there are works new inspired by the old: spirituals by Roland Hayes, Hall Johnson, and Harry Burleigh, instrumental music by William Grant Still, songs and instrumentals by Chicago-based composer Regina Baiocchi, new works by John Robinson and Valerie Capers, as well as songs by Florence Price, Roxanna Wright, Andre Myers, Charles Brown, and Charles Lloyd, Jr.

Below is an excerpt from last year’s concert, from the ensemble performing Zenobia Powell Perry’s “I Gotta Move When the Spirit Say Move”:

For Silicon Valley locals, the most famous name in this outfit is one of the principals: Judge LaDoris Cordell. She’s a retired judge of the Superior Court of California, and a former Independent Police Auditor for the city of San Jose — as well as an accomplished pianist and singer. Together with her Menlo Park piano teacher Josephine “Jodi” Gandolfi, Cordell has become a tireless advocate for music history appreciation through the Initiative.

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