The poetry and music of famed African-American writer Langston Hughes will be explored and celebrated during a special free event on Monday evening, Feb. 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Roy Smith Theatre on the campus of Union County College in Cranford.
Sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs in the Department of Parks and Recreation, this free performance will celebrate the birth of James Mercer Langston Hughes on Feb. 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. Host Terrance McKnight will present a live adaptation of his radio documentary, “I, Too, Sing America: Music in the Life of Langston Hughes,” which was produced for WQXR, New York Public Radio. The performance at the Roy Smith Theatre will include live music and dramatic readings.
“Langston Hughes captured the full spirit of his times, from the glory of the Harlem Renaissance to the suffering and daily struggles of African-Americans. His legacy continues to inspire us to seek truth and beauty in all humanity,” said Union County Freeholder Linda Carter.
In this one hour presentation, Terrance McKnight takes us on a journey through Hughes’ life and work, and through his love for and contributions to music and the shaping of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.
“Langston Hughes believed in bringing his work to audiences all over the nation, and Terrance McKnight enables a new generation to experience the excitement of a live performance by a great American author,” said Bette Jane Kowalski, Freeholder liaison for Cultural and Heritage Affairs. “It is sure to be an entertaining and informative evening, and we hope you will come and join us.”
Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a poet, novelist, playwright and social activist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form known as jazz poetry. Hughes loved music. He wrote songs, opera librettos and gospel plays, and traveled with his record collection. A longtime resident of Harlem in New York City, Langston Hughes also lived in Westfield, New Jersey in the early 1930’s.
Terrance McKnight is the weekday evening host on WQXR. His musical experiences – from glee club soloist and accomplished pianist, to professor at Morehouse College – have consistently juxtaposed the European Classical tradition alongside American classic traditions, such as jazz, gospel, African-American spirituals and other musical genres.
Admission to “Music in the Life of Langston Hughes” is free of charge, but pre-registration is required. To register and reserve a seat, call the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-558-2550 or use the online form at the Cultural and Heritage page on the Union County website, ucnj.org.