Woman of the Month is a feature on my blog where each month I highlight a woman in the world who I think garners recognition. I started this mainly to increase Girl Power and empowerment, and because there’s a lot of women I feel are overlooked and I wanted to bring attention to them.
This month, I’m highlighting Margaret Bonds.
Margaret Bonds was an African American composer and pianist. She was one of the first black composers to gain recognition in the US. She got her bachelor’s degree and master’s from Northwestern University in music, as one of the only black students at the university.
After graduation, she founded the Allied Arts Academy, an institution for talented African American children in Chicago, where she taught taught art, music, and ballet. She performed as a pianist with several organizations, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Women’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. She was the first African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony.
She then moved to New York, where she edited music. One of her pieces was adapted and included in Gone With the Wind. She continued to study music at Juilliard, focusing on piano and composition. She also took private composition lessons from several other composers; she attempted to get lessons from one composer, who told her her work was practically perfect and refused to teach her further.
As a student, she also taught music, performed in local orchestras, and was the minister of music for her church. She formed the Margaret Bonds Chamber Society, a group of black musicians which performed mainly the work of black classical composers. She eventually moved to LA and taught music at the Los Angeles Inner City Institute and at the Inner City Cultural Centre.
“Women are expected to be wives, mothers, and do all the nasty things in the community (Oh, I do them). And if a woman is cursed with having talent too, then she keeps apologizing for it. … It really is a curse, in a way, because instead of working 12 hours a day like other women, you work 24.”
Thanks for reading! xx