Bexley News

Bexley Community Book Club

Saxophonist-author McBride to perform

April event will be more than a lecture as artist will play at Lincoln Theater

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As one who brings together both words and music to entertain and inspire, James McBride has been chosen as the Bexley Community Book Club's 2015 Selected Author.

The BCBC, an arm of the Bexley Education Foundation, made the announcement last week, along with plans for a number of book-related events leading up to the author's visit April 14.

In order to accommodate McBride's musical portion of the presentation, the BCBC has partnered with the Lincoln Theater Association to hold a performance at the historic Lincoln Theater.

Linda Kass, the book club's founder and chairwoman, is excited to bring the unique experience to Bexley, she said, but added that in many ways, all of the group's selected authors have been unique.

"None of these artists are like the other," Kass said.

McBride is an accomplished musician, composer and author of the novel The Color of Water and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. McBride has written for The Washington Post, People, The Boston Globe, Essence, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

A graduate of Oberlin College, he holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He has also received several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

McBride's father, who died of cancer at the age of 45, was African-American, and his mother was a Jewish immigrant from Poland. He was raised in Brooklyn's Red Hook housing projects, and was one of 12 children.

Also an award-winning composer and saxophonist, McBride has written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr. and Gary Burton, as well as for the PBS character Barney. He toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz artist Jimmy Scott and others.

"I think it's always a bonus when our authors have another talent," said Kass. "With James McBride, also an accomplished saxophonist, journalist and screenwriter, we offer a renaissance man and born storyteller. His work draws on significant historic events and people, particularly experiences of African Americans, that speak to the commonality of the human experience and explore identity, race and heritage."

After asking McBride to come to Bexley as the 2015 Selected Author, Kass, who was secretly hoping he would perform his music as well, was ecstatic when McBride called back asking to play.

Kass, who has been comfortable with providing quality performances in the Schottenstein Theatre in Bexley's high school, said she had second thoughts, though, about McBride's performance there.

"To put this at the same level, first-rate, I was trying to figure out how to do it real well," she said.

So she contacted CAPA President and CEO Bill Conner, who suggested the event be held at the Lincoln Theater.

The event will begin with a 20-minute conversation with the audience, followed by a musical presentation with words, Kass said.

The audience will then be part of a question-and-answer period, along with a book signing.

McBride will visit with students in Bexley prior to the evening appearance.

A number of events will be held prior to McBride's visit, the first being a Literary Salon with readings from central Ohio authors and poets, along with a dramatic reading of an excerpt from The Good Lord Bird by a local actor. The event, which is co-presented with the Ohio State University Humanities Institute, will include live jazz and refreshments. It is planned for 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Jewish Center of Greater Columbus, 1125 College Ave.

Ticket information will be available later this fall.

 

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