A Diva in the Family
I have also been working on my book. I didn't want to say too much about the book before it's time, and I still don't, but I will tell you a little more about it because I can only hold so much in! The proposal is already out in the publishing world anyway (say a prayer!)
My book is called A Diva in the Family and it's about my aunt, Margaret Tynes. She had a phenomenal international career as a singer in opera, jazz and theater for over fifty years. A graduate of North Carolina A&T State University (BA 1939) and Columbia University (MA 1944), she starred as Harry Belafonte’s leading lady off-Broadway (see the picture below) in a show he produced called Sing Man, Sing! She also recorded a jazz suite called A Drum is a Woman with Duke Ellington and made several appearances on
Believe it or not, I heard about her for the first time at our family reunion in 1988 when I was a teenager. As a souvenir, we were provided with a booklet detailing our family history dating back to Timothy Tynes, a
This is the picture that started it all. I was researching my forthcoming novel at the
When I finally met her again at her friend’s home in Harlem during the Christmas holidays in 2002, I was very nervous. I had no idea what I would be walking into. Would she be an eccentric cartoon-like diva ala Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard? Or, God forbid, a prima donna cultivated in the old Negro bourgeoisie who might have turned her nose up at those who were not our kind of people? I wasn’t entirely sure how far our distant relation would carry me.
Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. Today, at age 86, she's still gorgeous - and grand - but in the best way. She's proud of her career, but very modest about it at the same time.
Although this project has temporarily taken me away from my original plans, it really fits right in. All of my work, fiction and non-fiction, revolves around black entertainment history - it's my passion. So the opportunity to do A Diva in the Family was truly a gift to me.
And Aunt Margaret is so great! Talking and visiting with her is always an adventure and so much fun! She also likes to give me a lot of advice, which tends to begin and end with "Go with God Nichelle! Go with God!" It may seem like I've said a lot here, but trust me, it's only the tip of the iceberg.
I am working on getting a solid publisher in the next few months. Fortunately, I worked in publishing for many years, so I am quite hopeful about good things happening with the book in the very near future.
I'll keep you posted!