Partial Transcript: HT: Let's start off the interview by my asking you about your background: such as where you were born, a little bit about your family, and that sort of thing.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her family, including her parents. She also describes how she first started playing the organ.
Partial Transcript: My father was working on his master's degree and took a music class with Professor Charles Johnson Blue and he asked him if he would come to Kannapolis and teach his daughter, you know, organ and piano.
Segment Synopsis: Baker discusses the process that went in her decision to apply to UNCG's music program, including the influence of Professor Charles Johnson Blue.
Partial Transcript: HT: Now, had you always been musically inclined?
BB: Yes, yes. My father - When I was in my mother's womb, my father touched her stomach and said, "Lord, let this child be musical. Let her play and sing."
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the music lessons she received from a young age. Included are descriptions of the influence of her father and Charles Johnson Blue.
Partial Transcript: HT: What were your favorite high school subjects?
BB: Well, there was no music in my high school so- But the principal asked a lady, Mrs. Miller, who was the second grade teacher, she played the piano.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her experiences with music while in high school, including being asked to play the piano for occasions.
Partial Transcript: BB: And that was really what I - I really wanted to be a dentist until I took chemistry. I thought, well, I should be a dentist.
Segment Synopsis: Baker discusses her early ambitions to become a dentist, and the county dentists that influenced her. She describes being able to pull a tooth out of a patient herself.
Partial Transcript: BB: In Kannapolis there was a black high school, Carver High School, George Washington Carver High School, that went from grades one through twelve and that was the only school in Kannapolis -at the time when I was there - for black kids.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the segregated black school she attended in Kannapolis in the 1960s.
Partial Transcript: HT: I would imagine Kannapolis at that time was a mill town.
BB: It was a mill town, a segregated mill town.
HT: And of course that's
BB: A segregated mill town.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes Kannapolis as a segregated mill town. She discusses the types of work black people could expect to have. She mentions two different theaters.
Partial Transcript: BB: So anyway, Kannapolis was a very insular place to grow up in because all of the black people went to the same high school from grades on through twelve, so- and my mother taught at that high school and she taught many of the people who were my classmates' parents.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her teachers at George Washington Carver High School, including the education level of the faculty.
Partial Transcript: BB: It came down to they instilled in us a desire, the desire to do our best but also to represent our race because they were like, you know "You have to be really good because you're going to go up against competition and you don't want to fail.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes some racist interactions with a health professor at UNCG.
Partial Transcript: BB: But then I had a phys ed teacher who recognized that I was a very fine athlete and this teacher - I think she was a graduate student as well as our, you know, first year teacher.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes a graduate student physical education teacher she had that played tennis with her, a pastime she enjoys to this day.
Partial Transcript: So anyway as it turned out, singing became my passion. When I was a freshman, Barbara Blair and I judged the Ted Mack Amateur Hour auditions and they were awful and Barbara said to me, "How old are you?" I said, "I'm seventeen."
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes how she got into singing at UNCG, including winning the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.
Partial Transcript: BB: I Lived in Hinshaw Dorm and I can recall my first few months there the white girls would come to my room and one girl said to me - I had all my recordings, my records all around the ledge.....
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes living in Hinshaw dorm, including interactions with some white neighbors.
Partial Transcript: BB: And both my parents had master's degrees. My father was a chaplain in the army. My mother had taught physics at a college in Alabama and could not get a job in North Carolina because no schools in North Carolina taught black people physics, and in high school at that time when she was teaching, in the thirties.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her family background further, including the education and career background of her parents.
Partial Transcript: HT: Were you a member of the Neo-Black Society because it's just started about '68 so -
BB: Yes. I don't remember franklly. It was not a big part of my life because I was in the Music Building all the time.
Segment Synopsis: Baker briefly describes her support of the Neo-Black Society.
Partial Transcript: HT: And of course, I'm sure you saw the new Music Building.
BB: I saw it when I went back for my fortieth reunion. And I have to say this, and I don't mind saying it on this tape, you guys have to do a better job of welcoming the alumni back when they come back for reunions.
Segment Synopsis: Baker discusses at length her concerns with the current state of alumni affairs.
Partial Transcript: BB: Like I said, I just got back from teaching in Scotland. I was invited by the Scottish Association of Music Educators to come and be their headliner and to teach in some schools. I taught 445 elementary school students from 10 o'clock until 2 o'clock with a forty five minute lunch break on one day.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her time teaching overseas in Scotland and Italy.
Partial Transcript: So I get invited to do things in a lot of places and, you know, and I don't want to say I'm famous, but I get to do a lot of interesting things in a lot of interesting places and there's no reason that UNCG couldn't have invited me to come back and speak to their music ed. people. I've been famous for a long time.
Segment Synopsis: Baker continues to discuss her concerns regarding alumni relations.
Partial Transcript: BB:David Giddens and Emmylou Winter [Harris], Diana Barefoot and I, our freshman year, would go down and sing and there was a painting of four faces in the background so we called the coffee house "Four Faces Coffee House."
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes singing in a group at Four Faces Coffee House with Emmylou Harris (now Grammy award winning singer).
Partial Transcript: BB: But my parents - My sophomore and junior years my father was assigned to a church in Danville, Virginia, and I lived in Grogan at the time and they would, of course, drive from Kannapolis to Danville every Sunday and be there and do service.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her family visiting and bringing food to the dorms on Sundays.
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, if I can ask you a couple more questions about UNCG? You mentioned the dining halls earlier but what did you think of the dining hall food in those days?
BB: Well, it was terrible but, you know, it was what we ate and -
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the food during her time on campus. She discusses having to wear a raincoat to the dining hall, giving a hungry student lunch, eating on Tate Street and at Yum-Yums.
Partial Transcript: BB: I felt awful about my organ education because I was a bad organist, period. I didn't play well.
HT: And how many years did you stay with the organ?
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her struggles with being an organ major. She also briefly mentions being a member of Mu Phi Sorority.
Partial Transcript: BB: So, I mean I wasn't - I just didn't find my calling until I graduated from college. Any my calling really was choral music and that's probably because of Dr. Cox.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes finding her passion in choral music. She describes being influenced by Dr. Cox, and taking classes at Columbia.
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, what do you recall about the political atmosphere on campus during the '60s?
BB: It was very divisive. The Republicans - During that '68 election, many of my friends were Republicans ...
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the political tension on campus during the 1960s. She mentions Richard Nixon and riots.
Partial Transcript: BB: And I had marched in '61 in Fayetteville, to integrate the town of Fayetteville when Bobby Kennedy had to say "If you don't integrate by Monday, I'm going to make Fayetteville be off-limits to the Ft. Bragg soldiers and airmen from Pope Air Force Base."
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes marching for civil rights in Fayetteville NC. She also mentions Bobby Kennedy threatening to make Fayetteville out of bounds for soldiers
Partial Transcript: BB: And I found it interesting that my father would take home the African students from Livingstone College from the seminary, the Theological Seminary.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes students from Africa not being forced through segregation the same way that African-Americans were.
Partial Transcript: BB: And then I - became a junior - I was an RA my junior year in Hinshaw (Residence Hall).
HT: You said JA?
BB: Resident Assistant, RA [for freshmen when they came to school early before fall term began - not the entire year] for junior year.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes being an RA for a short period of time during her junior year.
Partial Transcript: BB: And the Daisy Chain.
HT: Well, they still have sort of a Daisy Chain. I attended the class reunion this past April when the class of - When the fiftieth anniversary class came through, they had Daisy Chains on either side of the procession, which was nice.
Segment Synopsis: Baker briefly mentions the Daisy Chain and graduation.
Partial Transcript: HT: Well, let's see. Do you remember anything about any of the administration? You mentioned Mereb Mossman earlier. How about Chancellor Ferguson? Do you recall anything about him?
Segment Synopsis: Baker briefly mentions Chancellor James S. Ferguson. Baker also mentions a retreat up at Chinqua Penn Plantation.
Partial Transcript: BB: My parents - my father was an activist to try to get the vote to get school buses for us so that we could ride school buses to go to school.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the lack of school buses when she was in grade school, and her father attempting to use the vote to get buses for students in Kannapolis.
Partial Transcript: BB: So, you know, civil rights are an important part of my life and I belonged to the Wesley Foundation. There used to be a Methodist church across the corner of Tate Street.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes going to church while at UNCG. She mentions the Wesley Foundation and First Presbyterian church.
Partial Transcript: BB: Wattie and Joe were just wonderful Christians and they were a bright light in Greensboro.
HT: Now was he an instructor on campus?
BB: I don't think so but I don't know.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes her friends Wattie and Joe Flora, including dinners and seeing The Fantastics at Greensboro Colosseum.
Partial Transcript: BB: But I must admit, as I think about my time in Greensboro, I got exposed to lots of things because I was able to go. People were kind enough to take me to see Broadway shows...
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes being able to attend lots of theater and shows, both in Greensboro and elsewhere.
Partial Transcript: BB: In my high school there was no French. We had no language lab at all and the French teacher really wanted to teach Spanish but we didn't offer Spanish at my high school so she started teaching us French.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the large amount of difference between her high school classes and her college level classes, academically speaking.
Partial Transcript: BB: Choir tour: I was the assistant organist my junior year; going on choir tours.
HT: Was this all over the United States?
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes the tours that she went on with the UNCG choir. She mentions often going to Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, as well as Knoxville Tennessee.
Partial Transcript: BB: That was - I don't remember. That wasn't during my -I don't think my people did it. We did the Naval Exchange, John Snider and I and Carolyn Abbot and David Lewis...
Segment Synopsis: Baker briefly discusses the Naval Exchange and the other musicians that played with her in the group.
Partial Transcript: HT: Did you ever go to New York?
BB: We did. We went on a choir tour to New York. We were staying on Broadway at some dive and my roommate, Cecelia, lost her key so we were really nervous being in a room where she had lost the key.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes more choir tour trips, including to several churches, as well as a trip to New York City.
Partial Transcript: BB: And I do freelance conducting and, as I said, I just got back from Scotland where I taught - I taught the kids on Tuesday about gospel music and about Negro spirituals and really about American culture a little bit because they didn't have any experience with Americans.
Segment Synopsis: Baker describes one of her trips over to Europe to teach students about spirituals and American culture.
HT: Today is October 9, 2011. I'm at Silver Spring, Maryland with Barbara W.Baker and we're here to conduct an oral history interview for [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Institutional Memory Collection's] African American Institutional Memory Project. Thank you so much for agreeing to see me today. If you'll give me your full name, we'll use that as a sort of a test, as well, on the tape recorder.
BB: Yes, my name is Barbara Ann Wesley Baker.
HT: Let's start off the interview by my asking you about your background: suchas where you were born, a little bit about your family, and that sort of thing.
BB: I was born in Concord, North Carolina, at Cabarrus Memorial Hospital. Ilived in Kannapolis, North Carolina from birth until I left for college. And then I, of course, moved to UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] in 1965. My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was a school teacher. She taught in the Kannapolis public schools at the black high 1:00school, elementary through high school, Union School. She taught fifth grade.
HT: And did you have any siblings?
BB: I have two brothers, two older brothers, who both went to A&T [NorthCarolina A&T State University]. So I was sort of oriented to go to Greensboro. And my piano and organ teacher was Charles Johnson Blue who was on the faculty at A&T. My father was working on his master's degree at A&T. My mother had a master's from A&T also. My father was working on his master's degree and took a music class from Professor Charles Johnson Blue and he asked him if he would come to Kannapolis and teach his daughter, you know, organ and piano. And he said yes. So every week he would drive from Greensboro to Kannapolis and teach at the local Lutheran church where I was the organist and that's how I sort of got back to going to-I was thinking I was going to go to A&T to study with him. 2:00He said "No". At A&T you'll get a very good education but you won't get a lot of music, and what you want-what you need-because I'm the only organ teacher there." and whatever, and so he said, "You should go to UNCG." So I auditioned for UNCG and I got in and so I went to UNCG.
HT: Did you apply anywhere else?
BB: No. Foolish.
HT: [laughs] Now, had you always been musically inclined?
BB: Yes, yes. My father-When I was in my mother's womb, my father touched herstomach and said, "Lord, let this child be musical. Let her play and sing." I don't know if he knew I was a girl or not but that's what he told me. So, I came out playing and singing. [laughter]
HT: And I suppose you took music lessons when you were very small.
BB: Well, I-In Kannapolis we were limited in terms of music teachers. There wasone music teacher, one, who was actually a white person and he would come to our 3:00house. I started taking piano when I was five and he would come to our house and teach me and both my brothers piano. And I got through John Thompson's piano book, Book One, and then Mr. Mullins, that was his name, and then he stopped coming. I don't know why; I don't know what happened but I continued to play and when I was in high school my father took me to Livingstone College [in Salisbury, North Carolina], where he and my mother are alumni of, and asked the choir teacher there if she would teach me voice and she did. And I had-this was the-About that time I think I was a freshman in high school, maybe in eighth 4:00grade, maybe junior high. My father was moved-His church was moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina; that's where he was assigned to preach. But my brothers played football and I was in the band in Kannapolis and my mother taught at the high school, at the school in Kannapolis, so we didn't move with him. He moved but we would go down on the weekends and I, of course, was the organist at his church. And then he asked Mr. Blue if he would come from Greensboro to Fayetteville on the weekends to teach me and Mr. Blue said if you will get, you know, five or six students, I will come. So every Saturday at eight o'clock on the dot Mr. Blue would drive up to our house and the church was next door to the parsonage and he would teach in the church. And my mother would always make him lunch and dinner and he would teach the students, including me, piano and organ. So that's how I got to study piano and organ with a really fine organ teacher because there were no organ teachers that taught black students 5:00that I knew of in Kannapolis. I mean this was in the early '60s so it just wasn't going to happen. And luckily I had access to the Lutheran church which had-They had a Hammond organ and so Mr. Blue would come down and teach me on that organ. And then we-When my dad got moved to Fayetteville, he bought-they bought a new organ for the church, an electronic organ for the church, so I'd have an instrument to play and the church needed an organ anyway so-But as I recall, I am indebted-my music career is strongly indebted to Mr. Blue because of his willingness to come. I don't know many teachers who would give up their Saturday, every Saturday, clockwork, every Saturday.
HT: And that was quite a drive, too.
BB: Back in those days, yes, because there weren't many superhighways that6:00connected Greensboro to Fayetteville. You had to go out-is it [Route] 32 through Sanford?-and go all that way and go around through the country and all around, but he showed up in his little red Ford.
HT: He certainly was a dedicated teacher.
BB: He really was; he was a wonderful man. And he insisted that I apply to UNCG,so I did.
HT: And no regrets?
BB: Well, none yet. [laughter]
HT: What were your favorite high school subjects?
BB: Well, there was no music in my high school so-But the principal asked alady, Mrs. Miller, who was the second grade teacher, she played the piano. She had gone to Bennett, [College in Greensboro, North Carolina] and she played the piano. And he asked her to form a choir and he asked the French teacher, who sang, to conduct the choir. She had no training in conducting, and Mrs. Miller had no training in, you know, conducting a choir either and she read some and she played a lot by ear and so we sang in the choir and back in those days, 7:00every class sang. Every classroom teacher had music to teach so, you know, they had those basal textbooks and in every class there was a period for singing in the school day. So my mother, she taught-Actually she used the theory book from Oberlin Conservatory to teach her classes theory so they could, you know, get a little music. And every teacher, you know, that they put on the records and we would sing with the records because there was nobody who could play the piano except me. I think I may have been the only person in my school who played the piano. So whenever they needed music they always came to me and said "We need you to play for this program." So I was always called out to go play for a program, or, you know, do something. But we had tons of a cappella singing. In fact we didn't have any-There were very few assemblies so we would have sing-offs. The classes would sing against each other. So every class would get their song together and we would go to the auditorium and they would say "Okay, 8:00Miss Fisher's fourth grade class and Miss Johnson's ninth grade class, time to sing." And we would sing. So, singing was a big part of my life: my parents sang; my father played the piano some; my mother played the piano; and singing was a large part of my life. And that was really what I-I really wanted to be a dentist until I took chemistry. [laughter] I thought, well, I should be a dentist. I love-In the days when I was in high school, the county would send around a dentist to, you know, give people dental care in the schools and so they would always ask a few of us students to be his assistant and I was one of the assistants and at one point he let me pull some little tooth that was going to fall out if you touched it. He let me get the little things and turn it and twist it and to pull that tooth out and I thought, "That's what I want to be." So and then I took chemistry and I thought, "I don't really like chemistry." They said, "Well, you can't be a dentist if you don't like chemistry." So I 9:00thought well, I was only good at music; that was really my best. I mean, I was okay at-I finished very high in my class, like third or fourth in my class. So it wasn't I was not a good student, I just-The things that I really liked-I liked English and literature but I really loved music and so, but since there was no music-like I never took a music class in high school at all like the kids that I taught. They could take theory; they could take music history; they could take recording technology; they could take piano, guitar; they could take orchestra, choir, band, you know. They had lots of options, but I had none of those options when I was in high school.
HT: Things have changed quite a bit in the last forty years.
BB: Yes, they have. And unfortunately they are going backwards now: the musicteachers are under attack and every time there is a budget crunch, the music teachers are always the first to go. And you know, I pity them-I really do-that 10:00they are under such stress.
HT: I think that's probably true for all of the arts.
BB: Yes, it is. And phys ed, I mean who would ever think of getting rid ofphysical education? You know, the memories you have of being in high school and elementary school and middle school are [of being] out playing ball, or dodge ball or you know, track or doing something physical, so anyway. So that was my non-education in Kannapolis North Carolina. In Kannapolis there was a black high school, Carver High School, George Washington Carver High School, that went from grades one through twelve and that was the only school in Kannapolis-at the time when I was there-for black kids. And I graduated Carver in 1965.
HT: And it was not integrated.
BB: No. They didn't integrate until 1967 and the kids, some kids from Carver,11:00went to A.L. Brown High School.
HT: And A. L. Brown is another high school?
BB: It is THE high school of Kannapolis.
HT: It is the high school. Right. I would imagine Kannapolis at that time was amill town.
BB: It was a mill town, a segregated mill town-
HT: And of course all that's-
BB: -a segregated mill town. The blacks lived in certain sections and much ofthe mill housing was owned by Cannon Mills and they paid their rent to Cannon Mills and at much of the time when I was growing up, only men-only black men could work in the mill and the women would be maids, domestics of the white mill workers. So if you lived in Kannapolis in the '40s and '50s you could be a mill worker and still have a cleaning lady and a cook and, you know, even though you worked in the mill. Because they had no other-there were no other industries that would hire black women and you couldn't work in the mills, so you know, you 12:00took domestic work. And then-I don't remember the year, but it was before-I think it was before I graduated from high school or shortly thereafter-the mill integrated and allowed women, black women, to work. So all those white ladies lost their maids because they went to the mill where they could make better money. And Kannapolis was truly a segregated town; we couldn't go-There was a black theater and there was a white theater. If you want to pause this for a moment I have something I can show you.
BB: So anyway Kannapolis was a very insular place to grow up in because all theblack people went to the same high school from grades one through twelve, so-and my mother taught at that high school and she taught many of the people who were my classmates' parents. My mother taught and so it was really fun, kind of interesting, because they knew her before she married my dad and I could tell 13:00who-When they called her Miss Graeber, I knew they were one of her older students and when they called her Mrs. Wesley, I knew they were one of the later students. But on the faculty-there were about thirty-nine of them-almost everybody had a master's degree from someplace and, because the schools were segregated in North Carolina, they went to Temple [University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]; they went to Iowa; they went to NYU [New York University]; they went to Minnesota. I mean they went to big-named, fine universities to get their graduate degrees so they were really wonderful teachers and because they cared so much about us, they just wouldn't-They just refused to allow us to fail and from that little high school-My graduating class at the time I graduated in 1965 was the largest graduating class they had ever had: sixty. Because they, you know, they knew you from day one until you graduated. They knew your parents, 14:00you know. I think they had two principals: Professor Reid was our principal and then he died and then Mr. Taylor became the principal. But I had Professor Reid all the way through so I had the same principal, who knew me, he knew all my uncles [and] he had taught all of my mother's siblings except for one.
HT: It was like one big family.
BB: It really was and it came down to they instilled in us a desire the desireto do our best but also to represent our race because they were like, you know, "You have to be really good because you're going to go up against competition and you don't want to fail. They'll say, 'All black people do that.'" And then I got to UNCG and I had the most racist health teacher you ever want to have, I don't even remember her name, she was Miss somebody. She wasn't married and they said her parents had given the school land with the stipulation that their daughter teach there. So she was not, you know, the highest-prepared person to be teaching us and she would single me out every class period, every day I went 15:00to health. And you know you had to take health as a freshman. She would say things like, "Negroes eat the internal organs of all of the animals that they eat. Isn't that so, Miss Wesley?" And I would say, "I don't know; I only know what my family eats and I don't like, you know, chittlings." Or I don't like-And then she would talk about prairie oysters and I had no clue what prairie oysters were. I didn't find out what they were until I was married and living in Baltimore and they were having a bull roast. And they were talking about prairie [oysters] and I thought "What in the world are those?" You know. So it was like she just singled me out every day. But then I had a phys ed teacher who recognized that I was a very fine athlete and this teacher-I think she was a graduate student as well as our, you know, first year teacher. She had been ranked number three in Arizona in tennis and she chose me to be her partner. So 16:00every class period it was Barbara and the teacher and I don't even remember her name but, so I got to play tennis a lot. I still love tennis to this day; I watch all of the tennis matches, and on my bucket list is to go to all four of the Opens and I'm close to it. But I had those kinds of experiences, those wonderful, magical experiences that-Because when I grew up, there were very few things that you could do that were on television, but I could watch tennis on television so I watched Pancho Gonzales and some of the-Rod Laver and all of those. I watched all of those matches and it's like you would internalize their movements and their-You know, it's like they prepared me to be a good tennis player. And I had good instincts and I was a good athlete, so you know, she chose me to be her partner and that was a good thing. And then I ran into Dr. Cox, Richard Cox. He is perhaps the most outstanding person at UNCG that shaped 17:00my life and I contribute all my success to him.
HT: Is Dr. Cox still alive?
BB: He's still alive. I just ran into him in a conference in Chicago this pastMarch. He lives on Guilford Street. He-and I've heard other black students who came after me say the same thing-He was as fair, he was as straight as an exclamation point. He was as fair to every student as he could be and he recognized your talent no matter what color you were, what size you were, what you looked like or what you smelled like or what you did or what color your eyes were. He gave me free voice lessons if I was-He made a deal with me. One summer I was in summer school and I always loved to sing in the choir. Remember, I was an organ principle so I wasn't even a choir major or a conducting major and he said "I'll teach you voice if you'll be the music librarian for the summer 18:00class." I said, "Oh, absolutely." So I looked forward to my voice lessons and I even got to babysit for him once or twice and he was just a very-a man of principle and I never felt any-I never felt any curious reactions from Dr. Cox at any point.
HT: Did you take classes from him for all four years?
BB: I did. I was in the choir all four years and I took-he gave us-I took alittle-It was sort of like a watered-down diction class for those of us who were not going to be singers-like "diction for non-singers"-because I was an organ principle and I wish I had taken more diction from him. In fact, that's probably my most sad sorry memory that I didn't take more classes from Dr. Cox. He was a 19:00wonderful teacher and he was just fair and he gave you the sense-and he was hard and he made you work; he made you want to work and he made you feel that your talent was what was important so you had to develop your talent. And he was dry; he wasn't warm, fuzzy, and cuddly. He was, you know, he was about the business of teaching and he was the quintessential academic professor which is: he wanted his students to learn to love whatever it was they were studying and he encouraged them in very subtle ways. He was my bridge partner on the choir tours on the bus and one time I got very excited because he had played something and he'd missed one of my signals and I said something that was unkind. And he called me aside later and said, "Miss Wesley, would you not speak to me like 20:00that in front of the other girls." And I went, "Oh, Dr. Cox, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to" you know. You know how you just "Oh, that was a stupid move" or something like that; something just spontaneous but he never held it against me. He just called me aside and said "Miss Wes-" And he called all of us by our last names, so it was never "Barbara"; it was always "Miss Wesley, would you please, you know, not fuss at me in front of the other girls." And I was like "Oh, Dr. Cox, I am so sorry." I mean, I just felt awful. He came to my wedding when I got married in 1973. He was just-I tried-He was the one professor-and Barbara Bair, my music education teacher until she died-that I kind of kept up with because they seemed to be concerned about my growth and development. And I had some interesting experiences my freshman year. Gordon Wilson was the organ teacher 21:00and he threw me out of his studio. Mr. Cousins, I forget-[M. Thomas Cousins, Jr.], I don't know, he was one of the theory teachers and he was a lovely person and I went to him and said, "Dr. Wilson has thrown me out of his studio and I'm an organ major and I don't have anybody to study with." He went to him and talked to him and he let me back in his studio.
HT: What happened?
BB: Well, he was upset with me because I had joined up to work on tech crew forthe opera and he told me that freshmen had no business doing anything but doing their studies. And I was an organ major and I was playing at a lesson in his studio. And he was beating on the organ to keep the time but I was so distracted by his hand going up I asked him if he could stop beating on the organ. Well, 22:00that didn't work too well. You know, it come down I couldn't play, I was so busy watching. I mean, I'm-I have a very sensitive startle effect and just the, you know, the going up and it caught my eye and I was nervous to start with and I just couldn't play. So anyway, he put me out of his studio. But anyway, he was only there for one year and then Kathryn Esky came. And I was never a good organist and I admit that. The reason I'm a good choir director is because I was a rotten organist so I got to do what I really liked, which is conducting choirs. But she was very strict with us. We could not wear pants to our lessons with her. She had gone to UNCG and she had gone there in the old days-I think like class of '49 or something, I don't know, '48-and she just-You know there was no compromise. She was, in her way, a good organist but she and I didn't 23:00quite hit it off together and I don't think-It was not a race issue at all, I don't think that was it. I just think, you know, I wasn't a good organist so she probably wasn't happy with my work. She could tell I was musical and I, you know, I tried, but I didn't have the kind of background that lots of other kids had where they worked on pipe organs and they'd had years and years of piano and, you know, that kind of thing. So I was sort of starting with a handicap and so anyway. So anyway as it turned out, singing became my passion. When I was a freshman, Barbara Bair and I judged the Ted Mack Amateur Hour auditions and they were awful and Barbara said to me, "How old are you?" I said, "I'm seventeen." She said, "Well, you can audition because you know, the cutoff is eighteen." And so she encouraged me to audition and I, of course, I won. So I won the Ted Mack 24:00Amateur Hour auditions and I got to go to the Greensboro Auditorium and perform and that was kind of fun. And because I could play by ear as well as read music, the junior class, which was Susan McDonald's class, would come to me-They'd get me out of bed. I'd be asleep and they would come to my room, wake me up and say "We need you to come and play this song for us." They'd say "We don't have any music but here is the recording." So they would play the recording; I would listen to the recording; and then I would sort of put together a piano accompaniment, you know, to accompany whatever it was they were doing. So I kind of became good friends with those class members because I was their pianist, even though there were people who were music majors in that class. That was Yvonne Cheek Johnson's class-[coughs] Excuse me. Who else was a music major from that period? I don't remember [coughs] Excuse me. I don't remember who else-Can you pause and just let me get some water?
Susan was my-Susan25:00[McDonald] and Portia Carvalho were my dorm junior residents and the reason I wear my pinkie ring from UNCG is because Susan McDonald had a pinkie ring and I thought, "Wow, that's really cool." And Portia was a wild child but fun and so nice and so kind and just-I think she was from New Jersey or someplace. I don't remember where she was from but wherever she was from she had had a very liberal upbringing so there was no hint of, you know, separation between the black kids and the white kids. I lived in Hinshaw Dorm and I can recall my first few months there the white girls would come to my room and one girl said to me-I had all my recordings, my records all around the ledge-there was an upper ledge of the room, so I had all, you know, [Alexander] Brailowsky, and E. Power Biggs and, 26:00you know, all the organists and all the piano-Brahms and Beethoven and Rachmaninoff and Chopin-so they would come into my room and see all these records and then one girl asked me in particular; she said, "Do you take 'shars'?" And I said, "What?" She said, "do you take 'shars'?" And I said, "'Shars,' what are 'shars'?" She said, "You know, 'shars.'" She was asking me if I took showers.
HT: Oh, my gosh.
BB: And I said, "Yes, I do. I take baths as well." And she was from themountains; I can't remember the little town she was from. Up past, way past Asheville, like close-way on the farthest end of New-the farthest end of the state, west. Closer to Nashville, than to Raleigh. And they had just never seen 27:00black people who were on the same level as they were. And both my parents had master's degrees. My father was a chaplain in the army. My mother had taught physics at a college in Alabama and could not get a job in North Carolina because no schools in North Carolina taught black people physics, and in high school at that time when she was teaching, in the thirties. And that's why I remember the astronaut who got killed on the first shuttle-[Ronald E. McNair] who went to A&T; he was a graduate. He had to go get his doctorate from someplace else because there were no physics PhD programs in the state of North Carolina that would admit black people. So you see, you guys have come a long way, just in my lifetime.
HT: Oh my gosh, yes.
BB: When I first went to UNCG the boys went to Carolina [University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill] and the girls went to WC [Woman's College]. When I applied, it was WC; when I got there, it was Woman's College. And I remember they did the cattle call, you know, when they loaded up twelve busloads of 28:00freshman girls and rode us over to Chapel Hill and then we would step off the bus and the guys would grab you and say "Okay, I'll take this one" and "I'll take that one" and it was frightening, you know, to see these guys standing there waiting to grab you when you got off the bus. And they were very-I think there were a couple of day students at Chapel Hill for girls, but I don't think they had girl's dormitories at that time, in '65. And then by '67 or '68, I think things had changed and they started men and women off. But those were interesting days and we didn't have the civil rights. It has just passed in '65-the civil rights laws-but they hadn't been implemented everywhere, you know. So again, in Kannapolis things were still segregated and at UNCG my freshman year I roomed with a black girl-Rae Heritage I think her last name was, from 29:00Tillery, North Carolina. And I don't know that Rae graduated from UNCG but she was my roommate. And the second year I was supposed to room with Meredith Marcellus, who was white, and the university wouldn't allow me to room with her. We drew lots and she went down-you know, how you used to go-Well, you may not know, but you would go to the lottery and stand in line and wait to get a dorm-a room in the dorm of your choice. And we wanted to live in Grogan, so she went. We got the room in Grogan [Residence Hall] so when we left school our freshman year, she and I were to room together. By the time I came back to school the beginning of my sophomore year, they told Meredith she could not room with me. So they gave me a black roommate. Now it worked out fine, but can you imagine?
HT: Things have changed quite a bit.
BB: I hope so. I hope so. Those were not fun days. I mean those were-andMeredith was, she was mad at UNCG from that day forward, I think. And by my 30:00junior year, I-In summer school I think I roomed with Betty Ann Myatt and then my junior year I roomed with Ursula Cargill. And Ursula Cargill married Daniel Wall so she was Ursula Wall and she and I are still friends today. She lives in Madrid, [Spain] and that's who I was visiting this past summer in Madrid. But I don't remember too many racial incidents per se because the music kids were pretty insular. I mean, you spent your life in the [Brown] Music Building.
HT: Just like the theater people do.
BB: Yes. Yes. You know, you don't have a lot of time for anything else, nothingextraneous. You've got to go practice. The English majors could take their papers with them and take their books to Chapel Hill and go spend the weekend in Chapel Hill. We couldn't do that because you can't take an organ with you or a 31:00piano with you, you know, and you had to practice. So the choir was really a wonderful nucleus for me because I loved singing and Dr. Cox was such a fabulous choir director. And he took us to conferences and things like that and we got to, you know, sing for important events. It was a really the years of my awakening to what being a music person could be. And I remember '68, the riots came and they closed the school. I think it was the year Greensboro got the, you know, the All-American City [award] and there was-I think it was in Look or Life-there was a picture of a guy sitting on a tank in front of the "Welcome to 32:00Greensboro, All American City" [sign] because of the riots.
HT: This was after Martin Luther King, [Jr.] was killed ?
BB: Yes, April. That April. Things were pretty tense on campus then. Yourfriends were your friends but I knew girls who lived in Kannapolis and they never offered me a ride home. They never offered to do anything with me. I mean, our lives were separate. They had their friends, their Kannapolis friends. There was one music major whose sister lived in Kannapolis and she was always saying well, you should go, you know, when I come to visit my sister, you know. That never happened. We just-Our lives were separate and not until I went back for my fortieth reunion did I run into one of the girls and we discovered we're both from Kannapolis. Now you say, "Barbara, how can that be?" Well, we went to 33:00separate high schools and we didn't interact. We didn't live in the same dorms so we didn't interact. We didn't have the same major so-I was, you know, one of five thousand girls on that campus and if you didn't do musical things or interact with me then you didn't-you may not have known me. Although I was voted outstanding senior in my senior year, one of the twelve outstanding seniors my senior year which I was surprised, pleasantly surprised with, you know. I don't think you know how people see you but it was kind of nice.
HT: And that was-You were voted by your fellow classmates?
HT: That's wonderful.
BB: Yes. So, anyway. What else?
HT: Were you a member of the Neo-Black Society because it's just starting about'68 so-
BB: Yes. I don't remember, frankly. It was not a big part of my life because I34:00was in the Music Building all the time. Did I support them, yes. Did I wear an afro, yes. But I didn't hold office or committee chair or anything like that. But some of my friends did. You had to have discretionary time to do that kind of stuff. And I didn't. I was really-
HT: Okay. You said you spent most of your life in the Brown Building.
BB: I did. I did.
HT: Now was the Brown Annex built by that time you were there?
BB: Yes it was. My senior year it was built. Finished. By the time it opened itwas already too small.
HT: Right. And of course, I'm sure you saw the new Music Building.
BB: I saw it when I went back for my fortieth reunion. And I have to say this,and I don't mind saying it on this tape, you guys have to do a better job of welcoming the alumni back when they come back for reunions. Who are the 35:00strongest people-your advocates: alumni. Who would want their children to go to UNCG: alumni. I felt like we were an interruption to the university when we came and '69 so in 2009 is when I went back. The chancellor did not come and speak to us. She spokes to the fifties, the people who came in the fifties. They had a big to-do and their lunch and all that stuff. We got relegated to some room somewhere. We didn't feel special at all. I mean, I'm a music major so-I'm used to going to the Yale reunions, class reunions, because my husband had been class of '61, so when I went back with him to his Yale reunions, my ex-husband, had come back to his Yale reunions. I mean, the chancellor would have a convocation and speak to everybody and answer questions from the alums and have an organ recital and the Whiffenpoofs were singing and the Baker's Dozens were singing and the, you know, all the a cappella groups were singing everywhere. There was, 36:00you know, theater going on and it was on a weekend and it was a big deal, you know. You had access to any-They had a tent for his-They would have tents-They would have a shore dinner with lobster and steak and, you know, stuff for all the class members and they had gifts, you know, raincoats and hats and umbrellas to give and things from Yale and Yale's insignatures and I mean, just-And I got to UNCG and I had to beg the lady to give me a UNCG pen. There weren't enough to go around. I said, "You're going to give me one of those pens. I came all the way down here from Silver Spring, Maryland. You've got to give me a pen." So she said, "Okay, here's one." She found one and gave it to my friend but it was like we were stepchildren and you know, [at Yale] the best professors would give lectures and you would go. And so we got a lecture; we had some lectures and then we went to one lecture, the person didn't show up. So I was like, give me a break, you know. I hope, they-and I wrote-we wrote-Marty Barber and I wrote up 37:00our concerns about this and I hope things have taken a different turn. But it was as if we were-This is not about race at all; it's just about how do you celebrate somebody's fortieth anniversary. Forty is a big year; a lot of people don't live to see their fortieth anniversary of anything. And if you take the time and the money to come down there you expect to have some-At least, you know, give us a concert. Give us a-We did have the English teacher who wrote. He came and read-We had a little banquet and he came and read a chapter of his book. And I remember his was "Ain't Gone Dance No More with No Big Fat Woman." And, you know, I bought the book; I was so impressed with him. But I said to him, you know, during the lecture, I said, "There are many of my sisters in here who don't know what "doing the bump" is. So he called me up and said, "Well, let's show them how to do the bump." So we had to do "the bump," so we [did] "the bump" for the group. But it was as if-It was piddley, you know what I mean. 38:00It was as if they did as little as possible but "we did it." They sent us to a dining hall. Now see, when I was at UNCG they had the main dining hall and now there are all these little, you know, satellites or whatever, I don't know. And you go in one room and there's a room over there and there's a room there and nobody knew where to go, which line to go in, where to even-We didn't know. I mean, couldn't you assign guides for us to lead us around, to escort us, to have a special place for the reunion. People, no matter what year you were, like "Give us a separate place so the reunion people can have a place to go." And you know, it was just non-thinking about what is the impact of this. You know, you get a bunch of people who are coming here and you just turn them loose on campus. Well, I don't need to go down there and spend my money to be turned 39:00loose on campus. I can walk around for free, you know? And I just thought they didn't make it seem like it was really special and to have it-I think we had like April-It was in April, as I recall. Well, you know, people aren't-They're still in school if you have young children. It was the wrong time of the year. Most reunions they have, the Yale ones, they have [it] after they've done graduation in June and they have it like the first week after graduation. That kind of thing, so the graduate children can come back with you parents, if you want them to, or college visits and all that stuff. So it's just like I thought, "They don't know how to do this yet." And I hope you've gotten better at it because I was very disappointed and I won't go back to my forty-fifth if that's all to the program but it's like why should I spend the time and the energy and the money to come down and-I mean, they didn't even like-Luckily the girl that 40:00was with me-I don't remember her name-was a music-something in the development in music-and she made sure that I got to go see the Music Building, the new Music Building. There are tons of buildings that are there now that weren't there when we were there. And so, you know, you want to show off the university so that people can bring their children, their grandchildren to come to UNCG and to support the university. Well, I thought "These people don't want my money. They're not treating me like they're really-They're not wooing me as if they really want me to contribute to this university and that's a-I mean, when I go to the Yale reunions it's like, Oh, yes, we get the big dogs. The president comes out; they bring all their Nobel laureates and all their big dogs to come and give lectures. You know, the Howard Blooms and-I mean, they just bring the big dogs, you know, to say "Look. Come on, you folks. Suck it up and give us some money." or "Come back and send your children here" And when I got to UNCG 41:00it was like "Well, if you want to, you can go over there and, you know, get something to eat." You know, the atmosphere wasn't festive at all; it wasn't even congratulatory or celebratory. It was just: "Well, okay, you're here. Do what you can; see what you can see and go home." You know, it's as if the univer-I mean, no-I have my-I had -When Miriam [Bradley] was here I showed her my white UNCG bag, the empty bag that I got.
HT: Nothing inside.
BB: No. [laughter] Give me a break. I thought, you know, when I go to Yale,they're so good. They give you umbrellas. Of course the class pays extra to make sure that everybody has a souvenir and they have their little year emblazoned on-but I thought you get a Yale umbrella, '61, you get a baseball cap and a 42:00jacket and you know, nice stuff. So what's wrong with UNCG?. They didn't even want to give us a pen. And then when we're supposed to go-I did go to one of the things on your-You have a farming program where the kids volunteer to go work on a farm and raise organic vegetables like that kind of thing, and I went to that and that was very good, very good. I enjoyed it you know. But then I was going to another session and we waited and waited and waited.
HT: Which session was that?
BB: I don't even remember what session it was but nobody showed up to teach us.I thought "Wow." There was a political science guy-I went to his lecture and he was very good. And I just thought the least you could do is give us your top people. And woo us a little bit to open our purses to give you some money. And I must admit, I left the reunion thinking "Well, if that's all they think of me, 43:00forget them." You know. And I thought, "I still wear my ring." So UNCG is a big part of my success but when I went back as an alum to celebrate my forty years-Because I thought I had just gone through some botherations in my life and I thought "Well, I'm going to go because forty is a big, an important number and a lot of people-" I think that I was the only black student that came back.
HT: Do you remember how many people came back at all?
BB: In my class?
HT: Yes. For the fortieth, yes.
BB: There were about fifty of us, I think. Yes.
HT: I know for years the big push has always been to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary.
BB: Yes, but what if people don't make it to fifty and if there's no traditionof going to the tenth or the twentieth or twenty-fifth? 44:00
HT: Right, or the twentieth or twenty-fifth and so on. Right.
BB: If there's no tradition to go then do you think they're going to make it tothe fiftieth? I mean, well. Some people did it but it seems to me the push ought to be to get the young people to come back because they're the ones who may leave their children to come back to UNCG as alums. There's where the push ought to be. And, yes, don't ignore the fifties; that's important. And those fifties, you're proud of those. Every school recognizes the fiftieth year because that's quite a major accomplishment. But forty is pretty darn good, too. But if you don't have a good time at forty you're not thinking about coming back at fifty or forty-five. And all those letters that say "Send us money; leave us [something] in your will." Duh! I was pleased to meet Jaylee and Gilbert Mead. I applied to their foundation when I was teaching at Eleanor Roosevelt and they 45:00awarded me nine thousand dollars to buy risers for my school. They gave us a grant and then I didn't even know [about] Jaylee's connection with UNCG until the jazz band came up about five years ago and the Meads had a reception at their Watergate apartment for, you know, special alums so I got invited. So I got there and then I mentioned to her that her foundation-that she and her husband's foundation had given me this money and they were very excited. "Oh, look. We've got somebody that got our foundation money." I don't think they're still doing that now but it was just-I mean it was a serendipitous event and that I happened to meet her, you know. At her apartment at the Watergate. So, oh! This is really nice, you know. But I just thought they don't-they didn't-UNCG-It's as if you guys keep missing opportunities to grow, to do the 46:00small things so that they can become the big things. You know that passage in the bible that says "Be faithful over a few things so that you can be ruler over many" and I remember, it was in-There were three UNCG music graduates who were giving sessions at the National American Choral Directors Association Convention in Chicago; Dr. Cox asked the music department to have a reception for UNCG at the-since three of your graduates were the headliners and the school said no.
HT: And when was this?
BB: I'm trying to remember. It was in the '90s. It was in the late '90s, maybelike '98 or around in there.
HT: Any reason given why, do you recall?47:00
BB: Oh, I don't know. He didn't-That wasn't for me to know or to even ask. It'sjust that it wasn't done. And the Temple people and the Florida, the Florida State people-I mean everybody celebrates. Even if they don't have anybody on the program, they're having receptions for their graduates all over the place. And here, we had three who were doing-I did the high school reading session; I did a conference, a panel, and I did something else at that conference. I was the high school person that they had picked me to do all this stuff. And Janet [Funderburk] Galvan was doing some sessions and so was somebody else-I can't remember-a guy, I can't remember. But all three of us from UNCG were in positions of great visibility at a national convention and our school doesn't 48:00have a reception. So we get to go to Temple's reception and we get to go to [laughter] Iowa's reception with our friends, you know. And it's like, how do you build networks, how do you connect the dots? Well, you have to have social things and outreach and you have to be intentional about it. You can't just say, "Well, let's hope they run into each other and they'll figure out they all went to UNCG and they'll be real happy about that." It doesn't work that way and I daresay that you've missed lots of opportunities for alums to support programs that you need great support for because the outreach has been nonexistent or not thoughtful. I mean, people don't respond to-Well, I don't know. I don't want to 49:00get into that. I just know that those are the kind of times when we would celebrate, when we could celebrate UNCG and know that you know, it had done-UNCG gives you a really good education and, if you were a woman, they gave you lots more than just a good education. They gave you a chance to excel and to find your voice and to learn how to compete and to find yourself and I'm sure it does that for all the students that come through there. I've recommended many kids to go to UNCG when I was teaching. I always started with UNCG and said "Well, you know you could check out UNCG if you're looking for a small liberal arts kind of-check out UNCG. It's got a good program." I'm telling my nieces and nephews. But my cousins and nephews went to Worcester because the recruiter came and 50:00said, "Let me know what I can do. Here is extra material." Here's this and this and the other so I sent my children where the minority recruiter came and said, "I'll be happy to look out-If they come to my school, I'll be sure to watch over them and keep you informed on how they're doing." So a young man that came to my program his senior year-He was in my choir for one year. He wanted to marry the choir president who was a real pretty little girl. I said to him, "Well, her father's not going to let her marry a bum. So you have to make something of yourself." And he said, "Well, Doc how do I do that?" "Well, you need to go to college." He said, "How do I do that?" I said, "Let me call some folks." I called the lady at Worcester. She sent us an application. We got that kid in Worcester. He is now a software program owner; he developed software and one of the guys that started Google now works for him and he gave me an all-expense 51:00paid trip to Hawaii when I [retired], first class. Because he said, "Doc, you were one of the angels that I encountered that helped me, you know." Well, UNCG could make a lot of difference to a lot of people if they would do more with their outreach. And I know this is probably part of it, is to start here.
HT: Well, I'm wondering if it's because it's a state supported school. Thatcould be one of the problems. I don't know.
BB: I don't know. I just know that in my dealings and in my career, there's beenDr. Cox and before Barbara Bair died, Barbara Bair. And really that was it. And, 52:00you know, I had no reason to go back home, I had no-There was no invitation. And, as I said to Miriam, I've taught-Like I said, I just got back from teaching in Scotland. I was invited by the Scottish Association of Music Educators to come and be their headliner and to teach in some schools. I taught 445 elementary school students from 10 o'clock until 2 o'clock with a forty-five minute lunch break on one day. I've taught in Italy; I was asked to come and be the headliner to teach a session. Bob Chilcott from the King Singers and Simon Carrington-Simon Carrington had been there once before me and they needed somebody to teach gospel so they said "Well, you need to get Barbara Baker to come and teach." So they invited me to come to Mondovi, Italy and I was their, 53:00you know, their headliner to teach all these people who didn't speak English how to sing gospel music and they sang gospel music. I mean, I do a lot of things that are kind of noteworthy and I was fortunate. My school had a sister school in Fulda, Germany-Eleanor Roosevelt [High School] had a sister school in Fulda, Germany, Winfriedschule. And on one of our trips their choir director arranged for us to go to Eisenstaedt, [Germany] to the Bachhaus and, because he was such a famous person in Germany, he spoke to the persons at-"Let her play the piano." So I got to play Bach's-one of the pianofortes in the Bachhaus. And my children were singing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and I'm sitting there playing for them and I said, "Somebody take a picture of this black girl from Kannapolis, North Carolina, playing Bach's piano." And it was the kind of, you know, very 54:00exciting thing. So I get invited to do things in a lot of places and, you know, and I don't want to say I'm famous, but I get to do a lot of interesting things in a lot of interesting places and there's no reason that UNCG couldn't have invited me to come back and speak to their music ed. people. I've been famous for a long time. You know, you look at my record at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. You know, people still talk about my program even though I've been retired and it's like I taught at-I mean, I taught at a lot of places and stuff [but] my school doesn't recognize anything that I do and I'm not saying this so you can invite me, I'm just saying there seems to be-And I don't know; this is not a race issue at all. This is just, we're focused in on our students here in 55:00North Carolina and at UNCG and that's that. And it's like the school needs to start looking more outward and say "How can we expand our network and how do we network with our alums? What are they doing? They're doing interesting things." That's why I'm so proud that you all are doing this oral history project because I daresay the graduates from my years are all successful people.
HT: Very much so.
BB: You know and you don't get to be successful if you're asleep, a shrinkingviolet or you have not gone through the fire and we went through the fire at UNCG. Nobody gave us-We couldn't get anything because we were pretty; we couldn't get anything because we were nice. And if anything, you got a harder way because you were who you were. Despite all that we're still standing and we 56:00did all right.
HT: You sure did. I know, I've looked at-Because there weren't that many blackstudents in the sixties and it's just amazing the accomplishments these girls did, because it was mainly girls in the sixties. It's just absolutely amazing.
BB: Yes. And UNCG gave us a good education. So that's not-I'm not saying that,you know, you guys failed, not at all. We are who we are because of what we've been through and I thank you for recognizing the fact that our time at UNCG is a lot different than the kids who go there today. And I remember I was a terrible slouch when I was in college because I'd finally got away from my mother telling me to come clean my room and my roommate was worse than I was. At least I would make the bed. And Miss Duff was our housemother at Hinshaw and she grounded us. 57:00She said, "You cannot leave this room until it's clean." And so she came back. We had to stay home and clean our room and all this kind of stuff. So I mean, And just-I remember the frantic drive trying to get down the-What's that little street in the middle of the college campus?
HT: College Avenue?
BB: Yes, trying to get down that street to get to Grogan [Residence Hall] before12 o'clock midnight. I mean, those were the days. I don't know, do they still have curfews now?
HT: No. Not to my knowledge. I don't think so.
BB: You know it's like-You know, I think you've got two minutes before theywould lock that door. And you know you were scared to death that we weren't going to make it. If somebody's car broke down, we were in trouble. Oh Lord, please deliver us. You know, get us home back to the college. Those were really fun days and we started the coffee house, Four Faces, the coffee house in-What's the alumni center? 58:00
HT: The Alumni House?
BB: No, it's next to the Alumni House. It's the big sort of central place.
HT: Elliott Center?
BB: Elliott, yes.
HT: Elliott University Center.
BB: David Giddens and Emmylou Winter, Diana Barefoot and I, our freshman year,would go down and sing and there was a painting of four faces in the background so we called the coffee house "Four Faces Coffee House." And of course Emmylou Winter-not Emmylou Winter, Emmylou Harris, that's her name, Emmylou Harris-went on to become quite famous. And I wonder if the university has ever reached out to her?
HT: She's been back on campus a couple of times.
BB: Good. Good, good. And David Giddens actually started that. I don't know ifhe's ever gotten any play or anything for doing it but he actually started that 59:00coffee house. And it was fun because, you know, there were lots of kids who played guitar and back in those days folk music was a big deal and I had never seen anybody play a twelve-string guitar until I saw Emmylou Harris play hers. Because-To my knowledge, nobody in my high school played a guitar, to my knowledge. They just-My high school was just not into music. And because there was no music teacher-we had a band teacher who really wasn't a trained band teacher. He had played with Louis Armstrong in New Orleans as a trumpet player and he was a math teacher, so he came back to teach math and they said "Well, start a band" and so he did. But there was no teaching us how to read notes or-I mean, I was the only person in the band that could read. And I didn't really want to get in the band. The only reason I got in the band was because they got new uniforms so I thought, "I've got to get in that thing because they've got new uniforms." So I got a new uniform. [laughter] And by the time I decided to 60:00get in the band, all that was left-We had only hand-me-down instruments from A.L. Brown High School-so the only thing that was left was an e flat alto horn which is really a bastard French horn. It has valves but it's just goes "toot, toot"; sounds like a tugboat foghorn. "Toot, toot." You always play on the offbeat, you know; nothing really, no melodies, never a melody. But anyway, so there was no music in my high school. And if they needed music, they would come and get me and say, "We need you to play." If Mrs. Miller couldn't play. They'd say "Come." I played for my high school graduation. My music teacher came down and I said "Would you please play so I can march?" and he did. So he played so I could march. But, so it's amazing at all that I'm even a music major, [that] I was a music major. And then I went-I have a master's from Columbia University. I 61:00did my master's in one year, including a voice recital.
HT: Why did you choose Columbia?
BB: Well, it was Columbia, Peabody [Conservatory] or Northwestern [University]and I lived-I was teaching in New York at the time; right outside of New York City in Rockland County. That was my first teaching job. I taught there for four years and Columbia gave me a scholarship and I didn't have to leave New York. I was already a New York resident and I could just go across the river and go down. And then I married after my first semester and my husband was teaching at University of Maryland Law School so I was commuting from Baltimore back to New York every week. And then he took a job down here at Howard University so we 62:00moved to College Park and then I got my doctorate at College Park.
HT: Now let's see. Tell me about the Katherine Taylor Music Scholarship. I'veread somewhere that you won that-
BB: I did have it. I don't know how I got it. I don't know who put my name forward.
HT: Is that the Katherine Taylor, she was the former dean of women?
BB: She was the dean of women.
HT: Okay. I had never heard of that before and I thought "Katherine Taylor, itdidn't sound quite right."
BB: Yes, I won a scholarship but I don't know-I didn't apply for the-I wasawarded it. I guess they-I was doing a good job or, you know, I don't know. It's one of those wonderful things that just happens. I call-I'm divinely favored and I've been divinely favored for a long time and I just say that's God's grace. And I don't even remember how much money it was but at the time when I went to 63:00college, I [had] two brothers who were both-they were both juniors at A&T and I was a freshman at UNCG so my parents had three children in college. My mother, the most she ever made teaching in Kannapolis was eighteen thousand dollars a year. My father was a pastor and sometimes-He always pastored little tiny churches so they might pay him ten dollars and then with food. They'd bring, you know, food and stuff or whatever, and my mother sent all three of us to college.
HT: That was quite an undertaking. Wow.
BB: Yes it was. And I never doubted that we were going to go. That was never indoubt. We knew we were going to go to college and I knew I was going to get a doctorate, whatever that was, because that was the expectation of my dad. When you get your doctorate, you can do this. Or when you get your doctorate, this will happen. When you get your doctorate. I thought, well, I guess I'd better get this doctorate so I can get on with my life. But my parents-My sophomore and junior years my father was assigned to a church in Danville, Virginia, and I 64:00lived in Grogan at the time and they would, of course, drive from Kannapolis to Danville every Sunday and be there and do service. And the members at the church would always send me a basket because they knew my parents were going to stop in Greensboro on their way home, so the girls would be lined up by my door, waiting for my parents to come because they would always bring fried chicken and pound cake and you know, goodies and stuff from the church. And so I always had lots of friends on Sunday, people would come by my room and say, "Hey, what are you doing? How are you doing?" That was kind of fun but I grew-My parents were poor but as I said, my mother had taught physics at a college before I was born so education was an important value in our house. And we had books. We had encyclopedias; we had tons of books, and my mother would read; my mother was a 65:00reader. She read War and Peace in two days and I know because I went to the library and got it and then I took it back two days later and got something else for her. And her joy was reading, so I grew up with books and words and ideas. And she spoke fluent German.
HT: Where did she learn German?
BB: Well, she worked for a German family but she also went to a Lutheran school;she went to Immanuel Lutheran College there in Greensboro. It's defunct now.
HT: That's right, yes.
BB: But she took German and she knew German and she worked for Germans when shewas a teenager and she said that she didn't let them know that she spoke German but one day she said she was washing the baseboards and the mother and father were talking and they said a joke. My mother laughed and then they realized that she understood what they had said. So they stopped speaking it in her presence. But she was would sing "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" to me when I was a child. 66:00It was kind of cool. And my father was a chaplain in the army so he had been to Japan and Korea and Europe during the war.
HT: This was during World War II?
BB: World War II and then to Korea. He got out of the army in 1958, and so hehad travelled the world and he brought us, you know, slides back from Japan and we would go to school for Show and Tell and we would take our slide projector and show all my dad's slides from Japan and the Buddhas and the this and the Japanese Gardens. So we were slightly different from our mill town community, which led to interesting social relationships between me and my classmates. My 67:00mother had taught many of their parents and we had travelled. We had spent summers in California and seen Nat King Cole and swam in the Pacific Ocean. For a mill town that's kind of unusual. But my brothers were football players so they were all right. And I was different because I was the pianist and I was into music and organ-organ music at that. It's like "Is she for real?" [laughter]
HT: Well, if I can ask you a couple more questions about UNCG? You mentioned thedining halls earlier but what did you think of the dining hall food in those days?
BB: Well, it was terrible but, you know, it was what we ate and-
HT: You always ate on campus?
BB: Yes. For the most part, except-well, the dining hall. When I was at UNCG,68:00you could not go in the dining hall with your gym shorts dresses on, so you had to wear a raincoat. So it could be-you know how hot it gets in Greensboro-it would be blazing hot and of course I would carry an umbrella because I didn't want to get a suntan. So I'm walking around with a raincoat and an umbrella on my way to the dining hall at UNCG-[laughter]
HT: And there's no rain.
BB: And there's no rain and it's hot. It's eighty and ninety degrees, you know,but you couldn't go eat, and you know-For some reason phys ed always came right before lunch or right after lunch where I had to, you know, zip on and go right to the gym.
HT: And your gym clothes were probably those white little-
BB; Yes, white dresses.
HT: Little white short dresses.
BB: Yes, that's what we had. And I just thought it was funny so I carried myraincoat and my umbrella just to be silly, I guess. But I can remember a girl who was a freshman and I think I was a junior or senior: Susie, Susie, what was 69:00her name? She was-had like a Swedish name. Susie [Swensen], Susie something and she said-She was a music major and I ran into her and she said "Barbara, you probably don't remember me but when I was a freshman I miscalculated what time lunch was and I got to the lunchroom and they had closed the serving lines." And she said, "I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't have a penny to my name and I was really hungry and I saw you.
and you said, 'Come and join us, you know.'" She said, "Now I told you that thelines had closed, that I couldn't go. And you said 'No, you're going to eat.' So you gave me your plate." I gave her my plate and let her go back as if she were getting seconds. She went back and got food. And I didn't remember it at all but she said I'll never forget because you rescued me that day in the dining hall. And I remember [that] every now and then on Friday they might have shrimp, you know, breaded shrimp or something but the food was mediocre and it was heavily 70:00laced with starches.
HT: Not the healthiest.
BB: No. And I don't remember if there was a salad bar or not and I remember theyhad that-They used to have "wonder" meat because you wondered what it was, you didn't know what it was. Or that green jello, they had that almost every day. I'm trying to think, not, not like the choices the children have today. There was almost no ethnic food. I don't remember us ever having pizza or anything Mexican. I just remember, you know, meat and potatoes and vegetables.
HT: The basics, really.
BB: Starches, you know, potatoes, [corn], and rice.
HT: Things that are easy to make.
BB: Something with gravy on it. Every now and then they might have a steak orsomething and I didn't like steak so it didn't bother me that they didn't have steak. And it-it always smelled. It smelled like the water, you know, that they 71:00washed the dishes with. So it was not appetizing to go to the dining hall. But my freshman year my friend Ursula, who has become my lifelong friend, was a singer. She studied with Charles Lynam and I used to be her accompanist. I'd play for her lessons and she paid me two dollars a lesson. And, of course, we would go across the street-There was a little cafe, a little drugstore cafe, over there that had a little lunch counter; across the street from the Brown [Music] Building, on that corner-Tate Street, is it?-and we would have a hotdog and a coke and we'd spend my two dollars from her lesson. And that was our routine: I'd go play for her lesson and then we'd go across the street and have a hotdog and a coke. [laughter]
HT: Did you ever go to Yum-Yum's?
BB: I did. I did. That was really the best ice cream. Are they still there?
HT: Yes. Well, they moved across the street when they built the MossmanAdministration Building in the '70s. Mossman is down the corner where Yum-Yum 72:00used to be so Yum-Yum moved across the street.
BB: Oh, okay. Mossman?
HT: Mossman Administration Building.
BB: She was there when I was there.
HT: Right, Mereb Mossman was the-she had many titles. She was one of the vice chancellors.
BB: Yes, she was there. I remember seeing her. And especially-Do they have aFounder's Convocation still?
BB: And they still sing that litany that they used to sing-we'd sing?
HT: That I don't know.
BB: Dr. Cox had-I knew I was in tall cotton one day when Dr. Cox-when we werepracticing for that litany for the Founders Day and he said "Miss Wesley, would you come and conduct the choir while I go downstairs and listen?" I thought I would die; I just thought I would die. It was like, "Me? To conduct the UNCG Choir?"
HT: This was probably in Aycock Auditorium.
BB: Yes, in Aycock. So I conducted.
HT: And you survived?
BB: I survived. I didn't pass out. I thought I was going to die. [laughter]73:00
HT: He had a lot of confidence in you, sounds like.
BB: He did. But I didn't know, you see-How can I say this? When you've not beenvalidated by experience and by life, you don't know what your potential is; you don't know. And we don't know how others perceive us, you know? So, I mean, we were just in awe of Dr. Cox. I mean, in awe of Dr. Cox. He could conduct anything; he could fix anything that was wrong with a choir. I mean, he was just, he was the man and so if he said, "Miss Wesley, would you please conduct the choir while I go listen." [laughter] Oh, my. What an honor. So yes, I remember those days and I felt really good about that part of my education; I felt awful about my organ education because I was a bad organist, period. I 74:00didn't play well.
HT: And how many years did you stay with the organ?
BB: I was there four years. I mean, I was an organ principle. I got my-I was anorgan principle when I finished. I mean, I did, but I was never going to be a world-class organist and I was never going to be really, really good. And while I still loved the organ and I still loved to play the organ, I just wasn't a good organist and-
HT: Now, is the organ more difficult to play than the piano?
BB: It is, because you have to use two feet. You have to do everything thepianist has to do plus balance your two feet and play and read three lines. The pianist can read two lines going across. No matter how many notes you put on those two lines they can read it all right but an organist has to read those two lines plus the pedal line. So your sight has to be broader and taller because you have to look-When you look at that measure, you're looking at three lines and you're usually looking at a measure that's this long so you can prepare what 75:00you need to do to get there because if you lift your hand up the sound stops, unlike a piano. You can hit or strike a note and do all those fancy things, but you can't-I mean it's silly to do them on an organ because the sound stops, you know. So yes, it's hard. I mean I graduated in four years. I was even in Mu Phi [Sorority] my senior year. So, I mean I wasn't-I just didn't find my calling until I graduated from college. And my calling really was choral music and that's probably because of Dr. Cox. I don't want to say "probably:" that is because of Dr. Cox; his exposure-He just exposed me to such wonderful music and repertoire. And I looked at him and I watched him like a hawk to see what he was doing and how he did it. And I don't conduct like him at all but, you know, it's like he set my paradigm for my understanding of choral music. And many of the 76:00things I teach, I teach like him because that's the way I was taught. And it survived-It did all right with me. When I was at Columbia, I took a class called "Sight-reading at the Piano" and everybody in the class was a piano major. One guy [had gone to] Manhattan School of Music; another guy was pianist-in-residence for the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Lots of kids had gone to Julliard [School of Music]; lots of kids had gone to Stony Brook [University] and, you know, some of the New York state schools; but they were all pianists and of course I'm in there with them. And it turned out that I was the best sight-reader of all the group because I could count. Solo pianists want to play what they want to play; they ignore a rest if they want to, no problem. You know, you don't have to worry about playing in ensemble; you're the soloist. But I knew that if I just counted, I could keep up. And I might not play every note but I was always where I was supposed to be. So I turned out to be the best 77:00sight-reader in the class, not because I had such facility but just because of the discipline that UNCG had, you know. If you got in singing and playing, you do what you have got to do, you've got to count. You count everything. And those pianists, you know, all they want to do is play so they get faster and they rush through things; they skip over rests and the teacher's going "No, no, no, no. Miss Wesley has got-." It's like I was the tortoise and they were the hare so-But it worked out fine.
HT: Great. Let me see. Well, I think we touched on this earlier; you said youdidn't really have a whole of time; thinking of extracurricular activities at UNCG.
BB: I didn't.
HT: Because in the arts, they just eat up all of your time.
BB: Yes, and when you didn't have that you had practice or you had rehearsals,choir rehearsals. I was in the choir. One nice thing happened to me; when I graduated from UNCG, Tommy-No. Oh, what is that kid's name? He had been a music 78:00major, a trumpet player-It'll come to me in a minute. He answered an ad in The Village Voice for a five-piece band and three-girl trio to go to Europe and the Caribbean so David, David Lewis, who is a famous or a prominent tuba player from UNCG, was our bass player. Snider-I want to say Tommy Snider but I don't know if his first name is Tommy. Anyway his last name is Snider. John. John Snider. And Carolyn Abbott, who was also a music major in my class, and a girl from Chapel Hill that they all knew-And we had a five-piece combo and three-girl trio. Then 79:00we went to the Caribbean; we went to Puerto Rico and then we went to Newfoundland; Iceland; Mildenhall, England; Holy Loch, Scotland; Naples, Italy; Sigonella, Sicily; Kenitra, Morocco; Rabat, Morocco. Where else did we go? We went to Wiesbaden, Germany.
HT: This was during the summer?
BB: And a group from UNCG called The Eleventh Hour and-
HT: So this was sponsored by UNCG?
BB: No. It was sponsored by the Naval Exchange. They answered an ad in the80:00Village Voice but seven out of the eight of us were from UNCG. So we travelled the world and that was fun, that's when I learned to like travel.
HT: I bet that was a lot of fun. And did they paid-This was all paid for by theNaval Exchange?
BB: They paid us and they paid our way. So we got paid and they paid our way.
HT: What a wonderful experience.
BB: And the one claim to fame I have as a singer-and I tell my students I reallyclaim this more than getting my PhD-was that I was an opening act for Ike and Tina Turner my freshman year [at UNCG]. Because Portia's boyfriend, my house RA's [Residence Assistant] boyfriend, was a graduate student and he was in something of promoting stuff and somehow or another he needed an act and because I was the darling of the junior class, Portia asked me. She knew I could play and sing and that I'd won Ted Mack and so she said "Barbara, they need 81:00somebody." And of course I'm too silly to know not to say no. I said, Oh, sure. So we go to some little club on the other side of Route 29 on the road to Sanford. I don't know the name of the club; it's probably as big as this room we're in right here and my foyer right there. And I just remember that I got to do, just like a warm-up act, you know, when the locals get to come out and then I got to stay and see the show. So that was my highlight because I got to see them perform and they were magical back then. And that was in 1965-'66, It was the spring of '66. So that was my claim and that's what UNCG gave to me.
HT: And Tina Turner is still going strong.
HT: She's unbelievable.
BB: Yes, she really is. She really is. In fact, I just watched a little bit ofher Tina in Denmark tour, just last night. But the girl can sing. 82:00
HT: Well, what do you recall about the political atmosphere on campus during the '60s?
BB: It was very divisive. The Republicans-During that '68 election, many of myfriends were Republicans and were against the war and I remember lots of people were protesting against the war but it came down to-I was a lifelong Democrat so-my father had been a Republican: He voted for [Richard] Nixon; my mother voted for [John F.] Kennedy but I just couldn't see voting for Nixon. I just couldn't see it. But anyway. And then when the riots broke out-I mean, that really polarized the campus a lot, I think. People were angry because it was as if they wanted-They didn't understand that the university was part of the town 83:00and they just wanted to be like in the ivory tower and you know, "Let us go on with our lives and you all can do what you want to do but don't mess with us." And that was the first time, I think, in my time at UNCG, where the college students finally understood that we were part of what happens in this country; we were part of what happens in this city. And Franklin, the black guy from Kannapolis who had been in Greensboro-He was one of the Greensboro Four. Franklin, I'll remember his last name in a minute.
HT: One of the A&T students?
BB: Yes, one of the A&T students. He was from my hometown. His mother hadbabysat for us. McCain, Franklin McCain. That had happened in '61 and so the stores downtown-although I didn't have any money so I wasn't about to go downtown and eat, you know, in the restaurants-But the stores downtown would 84:00allow you to come in but I don't think we could try on clothes then. You know, you had to buy it first; you couldn't try it on to see if it fit. Early on, I think. I may be getting my dates mixed up.
HT: You're talking about the Greensboro Sit-ins?
HT: Well, that happened in February, 1960. That's when it started.
BB: Yes, yes. And so Greensboro was, it was still edgy when I came in 1965. Itwasn't an open, you know, city, and they were-You can't legislate what people believe or think. And you have to be taught. You know there were incidents, even on our campus, when you knew what kids didn't like you and you knew why they didn't like you. Or you knew-Ursula and I had been-I had a car my junior year 85:00and she was trying to stand in this parking space to save it because she could see my car coming-I was coming. And she said "Barbara, here's a spot right here. Come and park." And another car cut in front of me and was going to take the spot and she wouldn't move. And they called her "nigger-lover" and da-ta-da-da-da, you know. And of course she responded in kind. [laughter] And so, it was alright. But she saved that spot for my car so I was able to park right on that-You know Grogan's on that curve and it was right on the curb and I said "Okay, okay." But there were incidents, you know, that were not pleasant. There were interracial couples and they felt, I know they felt, the sting of the looks, the stares and the, you know. And I can remember my freshman year also a 86:00couple of the graduate students-And I don't remember their names; they were married-they had a party and all the music majors, you know, they had invited all the sort of hip kids to the party and no one had invited me. And so when they were having the party, they said "Where is Barbara?" and somebody said "I don't know. She's not here." So they said , "Well, you go get her." So they came to my dorm. I was in bed. They woke me up and said "Come on, you've got to come to the party at X's house." I went, "Oh, okay." So I got in the car and went to the party. They said "Well, where were you? What took you so long to get here?" And I was like "I didn't know I was invited." You know. So there were-I found that the music students were, they were more sensitive to the issues at hand and 87:00they were willing to suspend judgment if they knew you, if they could get to know you and there were no preconceived notions that I felt. Now maybe I was just so naive, I mean I was probably-I was naive and I'd come from a very sheltered family. And I had marched in '61 in Fayetteville, [North Carolina] to integrate the town of Fayetteville when Bobby Kennedy had to say "If you don't integrate by Monday, I'm going to make Fayetteville be off-limits to the Ft. Bragg soldiers and airmen from Pope Air Force Base." So they finally integrated but we went through lots of stuff. I was in the eighth grade at the time and the Ministerial Alliance came to my father and asked him if I could be one of the marchers to try to get-See we couldn't eat at the counter. You could buy food 88:00but you had to go around to the kitchen to get it and you couldn't sit down and eat. You couldn't even get a glass of water [in Fayetteville].
HT: So is this similar to the Greensboro Sit-ins?
BB: Yes, very similar. And the same year-'61-because I was in the eighth grade.And so were marching and they would wash the floors and urinate on the floors and then wash them with a-and then throw the water on us. Or people would vomit in them and stuff like that and they'd throw the water on us as we were marching. And some of my father's older members were angry with him for allowing me to go and march. They thought "Well, Reverend Wesley, you know, you're stirring up trouble, you know. Let sleeping dogs lie. That's the way it's always been, that's the way it's always going to be, you know. Don't let your daughter go out there" My father was a lion of a man. He knew, he knew what had to be done and he and my mother decided that they would allow me to go. It was very difficult for them to let-I was the baby and his only girl. I was in the eighth 89:00grade, to go march and be exposed to the danger.
HT: What about your brothers? Did they-
BB: They didn't march. They didn't march. It was me and we had maps to know, ifwe were attacked, what streets to go on; where to go. Then we would meet at the church that night to sort of recount what had happened. And I found it interesting that my father would take home the African students from Livingstone College from the seminary, the [Hood] Theological Seminary. The African students couldn't go home at Thanksgiving and Christmas so my father would bring them home with him, with us. And the African students could go to sit in the white movies; they could sit on the ground floor because they were African. They were not American. Now they were black as coal but, because they were not American blacks, they could go in. If we were going to the movies, I had to go upstairs and they could go downstairs. So it was a tough time; I mean there was real 90:00danger. I can remember my mother telling me "If a policeman stops you, even if you're not wrong, don't be sassy. Go along with the program. Call us. If you get arrested, call us." You know that kind of thing because they were worried. Those were volatile years and for me to go to a white school was-It was different, it was difficult. I'm trying to think, were there any black music majors, when I was there, in my class. And I don't remember; I just don't remember.
HT: I would imagine [unclear]. Let's see: when UNCG, WC [Woman's College],91:00integrated In '56, there were only two black students at the time and I think the following year there couldn't have been more than three or four. I mean, it increased so gradually.
BB: When I got there in '65, there were thirty-five black students on the campusof five thousand and you could go all week-I could go all week and not see any of them unless I happened to bump into them in the dining hall. And Yvonne Cheek Johnson was a junior my freshman year so I looked up to her. I'm trying to think who else was in-there may have been a couple of other music majors. I just don't-They don't stand out in my mind right now, but not many. So the bulk of my friends were white friends. And then I became a junior-I was a RA my junior year in Hinshaw [Residence Hall]. 92:00
HT: You said JA?
BB: Residence Assistant, RA [for freshmen when they came to school early beforefall term began-not the entire year] my junior year.
HT: And what kind of duties did you have to perform for that?
BB: Well, you shepherd your little girls: you show them where to go, what to do.If they have issues, you try to help them with their issues; make sure everybody gets registered; make sure, you know, if there are any problems, they come to you and talk to you.
HT: Now was that a paid position?
BB: No, I don't think so. I'm trying to remember. Where did I stay? I don'tknow. It's so long ago I have forgotten.
HT: Just a few years ago. You've mentioned Yvonne Cheek several times and Ithink she had a sister named Betty.
BB: Yes, she did.
HT: Did you know her as well.
BB: I knew Betty, Yes, yes. She was a year-She was in class of '68. She was anart major.
HT: Both girls are attributed to starting the Neo-Black Society.93:00
HT: I think they live in Minnesota or someplace like that.
BB: I thought Yvonne was out in Seattle some place. She may have come back. Butyes, they are-I lost track of Betty.
HT: Let me see. Let's see. [turning pages] Go ahead. Sorry.
BB: Well, Yvonne Cheek was a very good friend and a role model. And she was socompetent until-And she was so bright and so smart. She was just the quintessential UNCG girl.
HT: So it sounds like you knew Yvonne Cheek better than Betty.
BB: I did, I did because Yvonne was a music major. And see, her class was my94:00class's big sister. She was our-I was a freshman when she was a junior so they were our sister class.
HT: Speaking of sister classes: you still had to have class jackets in those days.
BB: Yes. Mine was blue, navy blue.
HT: Do you still have it, by chance?
BB: Oh, I don't know. If I do, I can't get into it. [laughter]
HT: So many of those nice traditions have disappeared.
BB: Oh, yes, when the boys came.
HT: Right, in the '70s everything went out the window, so to speak. It's just amazing.
BB: Oh, yes. And the Daisy Chain.
HT: Well, they still have sort of a Daisy Chain. I attended the class reunionthis past April when the class of-When the fiftieth anniversary class came through, they had Daisy Chains on either side of the procession, which was kind of nice. But they don't have that at graduation anymore. 95:00
BB: Yes, yes. And I think we sang-I remember singing in the [football stadium].That was where we had our graduation. Very impersonal. "Would the graduates for music education please stand." We stood. "Turn your tassel." We turned our tassel. "Okay, sit."
HT: Well the school has gotten so big which is-That's the way it is, unfortunately.
HT: Well, let's see. Do you remember anything about any of the administration?You mentioned Mereb Mossman earlier. How about Chancellor [James S.] Ferguson? Do you recall anything about him?
BB: I remember him. We went to-there's a place-There's some kind of retreat thatyou all have that's up near Reidsville, Danville-that's out from Greensboro, north of Greensboro?
HT: Brown Summit, perhaps. Is that it?
BB: No, I don't remember it being Brown Summit. I remember it being some kind of mansion-something?96:00
HT: Chinqua Penn Plantation?
BB: Yes. Yes. The choir, or some of us sang at that and we got to meetChancellor Ferguson. Yes. But he was really not in our lives, you know. He was in that house over there but-And he spoke at Founder's Day but we really didn't-at least, I didn't and I don't know that his presence made it or didn't make it for the other black students. We were just do what you are supposed to-And for the most part we were really pretty obedient children, you know. Go to class. Okay.
HT: I think that was typical of that time.
BB: Yes. You know, none of this free-spirited stuff. That's why the Neo-BlackSociety was just a real-I knew Alice-What was Alice's name? She was from Rocky Mount. Alice somebody. And Betty Cheek and Yvonne and all those girls. They, you 97:00know, they got together and they were being radical. Myrtle Goore and Brenda-What was Brenda's last name. Her father was administrator at A&T. Brenda Gibbs; I think her name was Brenda Gibbs. They were all in the Neo-Black Society. And Alice McCollum, who was in my class and Rae Heritage, I think. I just know that I was so busy trying to get myself out of there: making sure that I went to all my classes and did all my work and passed all my juries and practiced as hard as I could and did my student teaching and you know, graduated.
HT: Where did you do your student teaching?98:00
BB: Ben Smith [High School]. Ben L. Smith, and at the lab school.
HT: And what was student teaching like?
BB: Oh, it was fun. It was fun. I had a wonderful lady-Mrs. Burnett at Ben L.Smith-and I don't remember the lab school teacher. But it was fun because I was getting to practice what I had been taught, you know, all those years. And actually, I had taught many years before I even got to UNCG because at Carver they didn't have any substitute teachers, per se. They would just use a student so the juniors and seniors would be entrusted to come and, you know, teach for a teacher. If somebody got sick and had to go home, they would come and get me and because I taught and I could play and sing, Okay. I did choir and-I'd been teaching choirs for all my life. I'd been on somebody's piano bench since I was 99:00four-years-old so it wasn't far-fetched for me. They'd say, you know, "Can you fill in for Mrs. Johnson? She had to go home sick." "Well, sure. No problem." So teaching was in my blood: my mom was a teacher; my aunt was a teacher, you know. So teaching was fun and I enjoyed it.
HT: Well, I think you mentioned that your favorite teacher at UNCG was probablyRichard Cox.
BB: Oh, yes.
HT: And then Barbara Blair right behind Blair.
BB: Bair. B-A-I-R.
HT: Bair. B-A-I-R. Not Blair. Okay.
BB: She passed away. She had a brain tumor, I'm told.
HT: And was she a choir teacher as well?
BB: She was a music ed teacher.
HT: Music ed.
BB: Yes, she was our music methods teacher.
HT: Did you ever know George Dickieson, by any chance?100:00
BB: Yes. Mr. Dickieson. He was a violist.
HT: He was also-He taught-He formed an orchestra.
BB: Yes, he did orchestra as well. Yes. I knew him.
HT: I interviewed his wife who graduated UNCG. I think she graduated sometimeduring the Second World War. I think class of '46 or something like that. I interviewed her a couple of years ago. And he's been dead for several years now.
BB: Yes. In fact, did he not die at school or was it Dr. Stone that died atschool? Somebody died in the music department.
HT: Oh, really. You mean over in Brown [Music] Building?
HT: Well, you were still in school-I think you mentioned this earlier-when Dr.King was assassinated in April of '68. What was your reaction to that; do you recall?
BB: I was crushed. I was really crushed because I thought things were going to101:00turn around and I just couldn't see the inhumanity of killing him. But that's the American way, you know. When people talk-When I give lectures and I give workshops and things, you know, then it was right when Bin Laden was-Everybody was terrorized by Bin Laden and all that stuff. I'd have to remind people that Americans have been into terror for a long time. And [when] we don't like somebody, we just kill them. You know, look at Abe Lincoln and the other presidents. Terror is not new to Americans and it was-I felt badly because I had to go home and, you know, I felt safe going home. My parents came and got me because the school closed, didn't it?
HT: I think so, but I'm not a hundred percent sure about that.
BB: Those of us who lived near enough to go home, went home. And I remember itplayed havoc with people's senior recitals. Because they were angry because they 102:00couldn't get their recitals in. They couldn't be there to practice. I thought it was-I mean, I had been in civil rights for a long time and for me, joining the Neo-Black Society was not paramount in my life. I had walked this walk as a junior high school student and had, as I said, stuff thrown on me. I'd seen the dogs. They'd never put dogs on us but I had seen dogs and, you know, the jeers and the names and the epithets that were hurled at us, you know. You develop a hard skin, you know. You just say, hey. And I was young for my age because I had skipped a grade so I was really younger than most of the others. So, yes. Integration was a big deal for me and voting was an especially big deal; I've never missed an election to vote. And I just can't-I remember when I went to 103:00sing at Yvonne Cheek's wedding-her mother had been a county-she worked for the county, I think, like county-What do you call it?-like county extension people.
HT: Extension agent?
BB: Yes. I think so. And Yvonne had a flyer or a poster at her house that said"He's a donkey. What's your excuse for not voting?" And I still remember that there, like "Okay, you need to vote. If it's time to vote, let's go." Or whatever. If you're going to be gone, okay, you get your absentee ballot in. I tried-Even now I work the polls at every election because I know the sacrifices that people made to get the vote. My parents-my father was an activist to try to get the vote to get school busses for us so that we could ride school busses to go to school. And since there was no mayor, see, you had to deal with all kinds of rigmarole. People in Concord really didn't care about folks in Kannapolis so, 104:00you know. It was black people. We had to walk. It had to be more than I'd say three miles before you could ride the bus and my father used our car, the odometer, to measure how far it was. I think I lived-I don't know, it was a long way but we walked it every day. My mother would walk it every day to go teach and when we were little, you know when I was a child, my mother would walk home at lunch just to see if I was okay and then walk back to school. If she had a meeting after school, then she would come home and then go back and walk. If there was snow, it didn't matter: you walked. Until my father-I think in 1955-56-got the county to give us school busses so we could ride the school bus. So, you know, civil rights are an important part of my life and I belonged to 105:00the Wesley Foundation. There used to be a Methodist church across the corner of Tate Street. They said "Wesley Foundation" and it was really funny because my father's name was John Wesley. So people would say-I'd say, "Well, my father was John Wesley." "Really." [laugher] But that was an outlet and then one of the nicest things that ever happened to me in Greensboro was Wattie [Mary Watson] Flora and Joe Flora. Joe was-I don't know what his official title was. I think he might have been like a Presbyterian chaplain or something and I met them and I used to go sing-I joined the First Presbyterian choir because I loved to sing. And Wattie would come pick me up every Sunday morning and take me to church at First Presbyterian.
HT: At Fisher Park?106:00
BB: Yes. I guess it's Fisher Park. I don't know, I just remember it being across town.
HT: It's a huge church.
BB: Yes, huge. And Stan Pethel was the organist and I loved the fact that heplayed so well and it was just amazing, the kind of repertoire we did. Wattie and Joe were just wonderful Christians and they were a bright light in Greensboro.
HT: Now was he an instructor on campus?
BB: I don't think so but I don't know.
HT: I've heard that name but I cannot-
BB: Joe Flora. Yes. I know he was a minister and I think he had something to dowith First Pres, but I don't know. But I know that Wattie and her mother were members at First Pres. I used to go to choir practice and so they arranged for somebody to come pick me up on Wednesday and Thursday nights to go to choir 107:00practice. And then they would take me to their house on a Sunday, maybe for a Sunday lunch or something and every now and then they would take me out to dinner. And just-It was very nice, very nice and they were a wonderful family. I must admit, I don't know what happened to those children. They had three boys, I think. [phone rings] Let me just see who this is.
BB: Wattie and her mom took me to see The Fantastics at the Greensboro Coliseumand, you know, in The Fantastics there is that song called "Rape" and her mother was just outraged that there was this song that even said that word out loud. She was a Southern lady from way back and you just didn't say that word in 108:00polite society. And here they are on stage singing that word, you know. But I must admit, as I think about my time in Greensboro, I got exposed to lots of things because I was able to go. People were kind enough to take me to see Broadway shows, to go-Dr. Cox had guest conductors so we got to sing, you know, the Beethoven Ninth with some guest conductor, some big gun who didn't conduct too well but we sang with him anyway; Ted Mack & The Amateur Hour; or my student teacher; my conducting teacher asked-She was conducting the Greensboro All-City Chorus and so she asked me to accompany them on "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" so I got to play for that performance; you know things that-I mean I just don't seem to be-My background would not suggest that I would be doing all this. But it just goes to show you: It's not where you're from, it's where 109:00you're going. I just had lots of wonderful experiences in Greensboro and they negate the bad experiences, you know. In my high school there was no French. We had no language lab at all and the French teacher really wanted to teach Spanish but we didn't offer Spanish at my high school so she started teaching us French. That was her second language so I took two years of French in high school and I took the admissions-the placement test for college and I knew tons of vocabulary but didn't speak the language because we had no language lab. So I wound up in second-year French as a freshman and it was excruciatingly difficult because it was all-The professor spoke in French; you had to answer in French; and you had to go to the language lab at the second-year level, which was very difficult for me. So I found-I dropped that and started to take German. And I loved my German 110:00teacher who was kind of a hippy-dippy guy and I loved-I took two years-two semesters or two years, I don't know. Anyway I had two teachers; I can't remember how long I studied with them. And they were just very good, so German was my language and I enjoyed it. As an organist, it was fine because I had to do a lot of Bach stuff and that helped. So I got exposed to languages and culture and lots of-I can't say diversity because there wasn't very much diversity in the years that I was at UNCG and they were just so-It was as if you were just [loud noise] That's my ice maker. I'm sorry. You were just invisible, you know. Nobody cared so and that's why people like Dr. Cox stood out. Because he cared, you know, he- 111:00
HT: He made a difference.
BB: He made a difference and he made you feel like you were an important person.And the fact that he called us all-all the women-by our last name.
HT: Wasn't that fairly typical in those days because when I was in college, wewere called by our last names.
BB: I don't know, because I'd never been. I don't know. But, you know, it wasjust nice to be Miss Wesley. Miss [Elizabeth] Cowling called us by our last name, too. "Oh, Miss Wesley." She would twirl her glasses.
HT: Now who was this again?
BB: She was our music history teacher, Elizabeth Cowling.
HT: Oh, okay. She was the cello teacher. As a matter of fact we have her cello collection-
BB: Oh, do you?
HT: -in our Special Collections.
BB: Oh my, yes. She was quite a teacher. We all had to take her music history class.
HT: What did you think of Miss Cowling?112:00
BB: I thought she was a hard as all get-out. And funny. Very knowledgeable, veryself-assured, fair. I mean she just intimidated me just because she knew so much music. Oh, this woman was really heavy. [laughter]
HT: What was the outstanding event in your mind-that really stands out in yourmind-about your four years at UNCG?
BB: The outstanding event. [pause]
HT: And it can be anything that really made an impression on you, I guess.
BB: Well, I don't know if there was one. Probably Dr. Cox asking me to conductthe choir. That put me on a path, I think, that said I could-Singing in the 113:00Beethoven Ninth was just astonishing. Hearing the wonderful artists, guest artists, that came for the Lyceum Series: Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick, Montserrat Caballe; it all came while I was there. To have that caliber of musician come to our campus. Shirley Verrett came. You know, world-class opera singers. Choir tour: I was the assistant organist my junior year; going on choir tours.
HT: Was this all over the United States?
BB: No. We mostly went to Hampden-Sydney College because Dr. Cox's friend fromChapel Hill was the choir director there and this was-Was I rooming with Celia 114:00Graskey then? I was. My roommate was the organist-she was an organ major-and I was her assistant and going mostly to Richmond and Farmville-and those were the days when Farmville: You know their reputation. They closed their schools and had those academies and black kids didn't get to go to school for twelve years and a whole generation of kids grew up not going to school. That's where we were, in Farmville; that's where Hampden-Sydney is. And we had "home-stays" so we had to stay with the people. I was always a little nervous when we went on those tours. We were riding through Richmond and somebody had a confederate flag and I said "Over my dead body." And somebody said, "It just might be." That put a chill right down your spine.
HT: Now where is-You said Farmville is it near Richmond? BB: Virginia. It'sFarmville, Virginia. I don't know what county it's in. Its way out in the 115:00boonies somewhere, like central, south-central Virginia. [But it's] where Hampden-Sydney College is. And we did "home stays" when we went on tour, unless we were going to a conference or something. I remember going to Knoxville [Tennessee] with the choir. We got to stay in hotels and it was the big orange city; everything was orange: Stop signs were orange; everything was orange. I'd never seen a city that was so involved in their university like Knoxville.
HT: Now, sometime during, I think it was during the late '60s, there was somepeople who attended US Tours. That wasn't during your time, I guess?
BB: I think they were before me.
HT: Maybe it was before. I might have been-
BB: I think it was before me. Like USO?116:00
HT: Yes. USO.
BB: That was-I don't remember. That wasn't during my-I don't think my people didit. We did the Naval Exchange, John Snider and I and Carolyn Abbott and David Lewis-I forget the little drummer's name, Randy somebody. And I forgot Greg, the guitarist, Greg-What was his last name? I don't remember. I hadn't thought about him in years either. But I don't remember USOs.
HT: It might have been before or after. I can't-
BB: I think it was before me. I don't know when it was but I just know I don'tthink it was during my time. I think Mr. [Charles] Hickfang, one of the opera teachers, did some USO stuff. [pause] But I don't remember anybody that I knew who went on tour.
HT: Did you ever go to New York?
BB: We did. We went on a choir tour to New York. We were staying on Broadway at117:00some dive and my roommate, Cecelia, lost her key so we were really nervous being in a room where she had lost the key. And we had to get another key. So, oh my God.
HT: Who has that key?
BB: Yes, yes. I remember we sang in the First, Second Presbyterian Church, wheresomebody famous like Charles Ives had been the organist or something. We were way up in the balcony and Dr. Cox was conducting and he goes to give a cue and his baton just sort of sails through the air. I remember that. That was pretty memorable. The university didn't send us to a lot of places-I don't know if the money-I'm sure money was the issue. But I remember, we-Almost every year we went to Hampden-Sydney to sing because they had the men and we had the women. And we 118:00would do the Brahms Requiem or some big deal. We went to Knoxville one year; we went to New York one year. I don't remember going south for anything. Not much else, traveling.
HT: Have you been involved with UNCG since you graduated?
BB: Very little involvement until I tried to go back for my fortieth reunion andI've already spoken of that. I really-It was not quite a rebuff but it almost felt like a rebuff, of not me personally but of my-of the people who came back who weren't the "fifties." The fifties were like "Oh, bow down before you." You get a special banquet, you get to walk through, you get-the chancellor gets to talk to you. The forties and the thirties and the twenties and the tens were like stepchildren, red-headed stepchildren at that. Nothing spectacular, there was nothing even memorable about my reunion. You know, that's sad. You know, there was no one event that was memorable. I mean they gave us a luncheon. It 119:00was nice and it was in the student-where they sell stuff-the student center.
HT: Elliott University Center.
BB: Yes, well it's like a student dining hall, a student cafeteria? Not the mainuniversity dining but a cafeteria.
HT: Right, there is a food court.
BB: Yes, that's where we were.
HT: In Elliott?
BB: We were in the food court.
BB: Yes. And because of where we were, some people didn't even walk all the wayaround to see that there were food stations around the corner. Just because it was not, you know. If you're going to have a banquet, what do you do? You put the food in the place where everybody can see where the food is. And in the food court, you know, people served their plates and went and sat down, not saying "Let me go check out and see where everything is first before I even start to serve my plate and see what's here." So there were people who didn't make it around the corner, who didn't see that there was something over there, you know. 120:00The food was good; it's just that it was in such a yucky setting. Nothing glamorous about that food court. It could have just been another restaurant as far as I was concerned. Nothing elegant; let's put it that way. Now we did have the closing-I think we had a closing reception when-who was the guy, English professor; he's a very fine writer, distinguished writer?
HT: Fred Chappell?
BB: Oh, no. I knew him. He was there when I was there. He used to sing with usand go on our with us. We came to Washington, DC to hear Deitrich Fischer-Dieskau and Fred Chappell sang with us. Not for that concert but we came to hear Fischer-Dieskau. Dr. Cox arranged that for us. No, it was another young man. He was like in his fifties and he's published several books. He writes about North Carolina stuff. English teacher. I actually bought his book. 121:00
HT: It wasn't Michael Parker, was it?
BB: Yes and he read a chapter and we were in a lovely place in the Alumni Houseand they had, you know, a wine reception. I don't remember if there was food. I think there were noshes. That was nice but that should have been the beginning and should have gone, you know, more than that. That shouldn't be the, you know-wine and cheese. I guess I was spoiled because the Yale people lay it on. There's music all over the campus. You get tickets to go and hear the Whiffenpoofs and all the a cappella groups that are singing. The bands are playing. The jazz groups are doing-You know there's excitement when there's alumni; all the alumni from all the various classes are there. I mean there's just "ahh" and when I got to UNCG and I'm waiting for the "ahh" and there was like- 122:00
HT: You were spoiled.
BB: I guess I was just spoiled, you know? And it didn't revolve around football,any sport or anything; it was just they made sure that everybody-that it was festive. That's what it was. And that's what was missing about our reunion was there was no festivity. I mean, like I said when I got my empty UNCG bag, it may have had a brochure about the college or something. I mean [sound of disappointment] that was it. My white UNCG bag; that's it. You know, that's not enough, and I think somebody-the girl that was my-She gave us a tour of the Music Building. Even Bill Carroll wasn't there that weekend. Like I couldn't meet the dean and I knew him. He had accompanied me at one point in time. I 123:00said, "Well, let me go by and say hello to him." "Oh, he's not here." So, you know, it's like just no-It was as if we didn't matter. So are you telling me that I have to wait until my fiftieth college reunion until I matter to the college? What kind of sense does that make? And what have you missed because you didn't? That's really the question: What has the college missed by not making their alums want to come back and want to get together and want to visit and want to be wooed by the college, and want to send our children there. What have you missed?
HT: Right. Well, I've heard several people say that as we're moving away fromthe WC years and the WC graduates, you know, it becoming more and more difficult because we've become such a huge commuting school. There's not that cohesiveness anymore that there was years ago.
BB: Yes, but if you put on stuff, people will even commute. They'll come.124:00They'll come back. And you know I get the notices about your homecoming and all that stuff but see, we were never a big sports-When I was there sports was women's field hockey and tennis and swimming. I don't even remember soccer being a big deal.
HT: I think it was just intramural, perhaps.
HT: It not until the guys got there, you know, that soccer became really big inthe '80s for the men.
BB: So, you know, I think if you don't know how to do it, then you need to golook at the colleges that really do it right. And you may not be able to do all that they do, but you ought to be able to capture the excitement and the-just the joy and the jubilation and the celebration of having your alums [to] come back and visit you and to make it worth their while to come back. And I'm not 125:00kidding, boy, I went to some fabulous lectures when I was at Yale and to hear these, you know, world-class scholars give a lecture. You know what your kids are doing. My son went to Yale, too. To hear the kind of teachers they're getting, they're having; the kinds of things they talk about. I was like "Whoa, this is really-That's pretty nifty." And then they had-The first year we went back, Matt was small, so they had a young Yale so they had college kids to take the young kids and they had their whole program lined out for them, what they were doing. And my son didn't want to go at first and then he got there and he didn't want to come home because of all the activities they had for the young people. And that-Those trips encouraged him to go back to Yale, you know? Nobody brought children in April.
HT: That's true.126:00
BB: Yes. So I mean I'm not-I'm just trying to lay it out; I'm not trying toassess anybody's-blame to anybody, I'm just saying it didn't feel like a reunion. And then we took our class pictures-of which I have one somewhere-and that was about it. It sort of ended with a whimper. They even had two classes meeting in one space; two reunion classes meeting in one space. Does that make sense to you?
HT: No, not at all.
BB: See, those are the kind of little things that say "Somebody didn't put anythought into this." Somebody said, "Well, okay, they can go in there with those other classes." So the forties were meeting with the thirty-fives in the same room. Not good; not good. Not encouraging. Not-It didn't even sound like the 127:00things that UNCG is best at: giving people a voice, inspiring them. You know, it just didn't sound like you had met your own mission, the way you treated the alums.
HT: Right, because our mission for years or our slogan had been "Inspire" for along, long time.
BB: Yes. Yes. Yes. Well. [laughter]
HT: It didn't happen. Hopefully it will change.
BB: Yes, you know. Little bit by little bit. And somebody has to speak up andthat would be me and Marty Barber. I mean she lives in Greensboro and she said, "I'm not sure I'm going to come." And I said, "Oh, Marty, come. You know it's our fortieth; you've got to come." So she said, "Okay, if you're coming I'll come." I said, "Okay, I'm coming; I'm coming." And she and I had a great time reconnecting but it was irrelevant to what was happening in the reunion itself. 128:00Too bad.
HT: Well, like I said, I hope the future ones will be much, much, better.
BB: I'm sure they've gotten better since my class. At least have the chancellorhave a convocation and speak to us all and welcome everybody back. She should have been there at the beginning when they opened the thing up. If we were important enough to come-If we spent our money to come down there she deserved to come and speak to us and say "Welcome back. We missed you. Don't let this be the last time you show up. You know we have a place for you; we want you to come back." Give us that pep talk. Inspire us to make us open our purses and give her some money, you know.
HT: She does that often enough.
BB: Well, that's her job. If you're a college president, that's your main job,to raise money.
HT: I know.
BB: And again, who are the people who are likely to give you money?
HT: The alumni.
BB: The alumni. Yes.129:00
HT: The students don't have any.
BB: Yes. The alumni, so she missed an opportunity.
HT: That's true.
BB: Yes. So. I think I have given in the past. I have given in the past and Iget the "thank-you" letter, which is nice, you know. But after that fortieth I was just-I was really disappointed. It was a downer. It wasn't "ahh." It was a really a downer. Enough of this. Ask me some more questions.
HT: Well, I really don't have any more formal questions. Is there anything elseyou'd like to add? We've covered so much in the last couple of hours, so-Let's see. Well, tell me this: Tell me a little bit about what you've done since you've left UNCG. You've covered in spots but-I know you taught for a number of years.
BB: I did. I taught in Rockland County, New York. I taught junior high seventhgrade and eighth grade music for four years; and then I went to graduate school at Columbia. I got my master's in '74; moved down here in '74 to Maryland; 130:00started doctoral program at the University of Maryland; finished that in '78; got a job teaching in a high school in Prince George's County-Eleanor Roosevelt High School; stayed there thirty years; retired in 2008. Suezette Brown's sister-in-law was one of my colleagues at Eleanor Roosevelt and I taught two of her nieces.
HT: Is that Carolyn Suezette Brown Roney?
BB: Yes. Suezette Brown.
HT: Because I'm meeting with her tomorrow.
BB: Her brother's children were in my choir and her brother's wife was on thefaculty-Andrea. At Eleanor Roosevelt we won everything we did; we-You know I had 131:00choir programs. I taught there for thirty years and I sent kids to Eastman [School of music], to Julliard, to Northwestern, to Indiana, Oberlin [Conservatory] but I sent a lot of kids to UNCG also; some in music but not many. In fact, one of our state congressmen was a social studies major at UNCG. I sent him down there and now he is in the Maryland State Senate, Justin Ross. And another one of my students that I sent down there: Viveca Williams Frye is, an audiologist. She was looking at music but decided she wanted to be an 132:00audiologist so she went to UNCG. What else have I done? Well, I've raised a child who is a fine young man.
HT: Just the one-you have one child?
BB: Yes. He was a Yale football player; he was in a secret society; he ran theYale laundry; he was in this fraternity; he graduated in four years; and now he's-He worked at a law firm as a paralegal in New York-Scadden Arps-for three years and then he worked for the ACLU. They designed a job for him, for him to work one year on this project and he did. And then he came to law school. He came down here. He's at George Washington Law School now in a dual-degree program called "Political Science and Law." And he just got married in August. 133:00That's why I just had the party for him last weekend. And I have celebrated thirty years at my church. I have a gospel choir at my church and this is my thirty-first year working with them. And it's a wonderful group of people. I'm really the only professional musician in the choir and the audition for my choir is "Can you cook?" And if you can cook, you can sing in my choir. And if the guys say, "No, I can't cook" I say, "Do you know where you know where to buy good food?" "Oh, yeah." "Well, you're in the choir." Because it's a church choir and I feel that God gave each of us a voice and that nobody should be deny you the chance to sing, to lift your voice to your God.
HT: Is it a local Lutheran church?
BB: I'm actually Methodist, United Methodist. Yes, it's local; Colesville UnitedMethodist Church which is about-If you came across Randolph Road you passed my church. It's at Randolph and New Hampshire, up that way. And I do freelance 134:00conducting and, as I said, I just got back from Scotland where I taught-I taught the kids on Tuesday about gospel music and about Negro spirituals and really about American culture a little bit because they didn't have any experience with Americans. So they wanted to know about my life and things like that so I talked to them about that. And then on Wednesday I taught at a high school; I taught senior high girls and middle school children about gospel and Negro spirituals. And then on Thursday-Wednesday night I went to a round-table discussion dinner where all the key musicians and professional musicians and professional artists and theater people were trying to discuss the future of music in Scotland. So I was in that discussion of what's happening, what's good, what's bad, what they need to do. And all the presidents of their universities and all their music 135:00departments of the universities and their academies and conservatories: all those people were there. We talked. And then on Thursday I gave the opening speech for the conference for all the music people from Scotland and then I taught two sessions-three sessions-on gospel and Negro spirituals. That's really my specialty. That's what my dissertation and my doctorate work is on. And then on Friday, I did the opening speech and taught three more sessions.
HT: Wow. You were busy.
BB: Yes, I was. And then I went to Paris, [France] to play and I heard awonderful recital at the Notre Dame Cathedral, an organ recital. And then I went to Madrid to visit Ursula and saw a lot of central Spain and lot of culture stuff and a lot of the capital, actually. So what do I do now? I'm a freelance 136:00conductor. I'll be going for a return visit to the Houston Ebony Opera Chorus in March of this coming year. I was their guest conductor last year and they invited me to come back. I'm going to be artist-in-residence with the Pensacola Children's Chorus and with the San Antonio Children's Chorus this coming year.
HT: You're not retired. [laughter]
BB: Well, I'm retired from the tyranny of the bells. That's what I call it. I'mreally happy that I'm retired from that, too, let me tell you. The thing that being in my position is that it lets me do the things that I want to do and not to do the things that I must do; that somebody else says that I have to do. What else? I did the Louisiana All-State last November and my accompanist was a 137:00graduate of UNCG. He's down there at one of the-Louisiana State at Monroe? Louisiana? I don't know whether that's-I think it's Louisiana State. I can't remember his name. But I conducted and he was the accompanist and not until the program where they put your bio did he realize that I was from UNCG and he-And I saw him and he was from UNCG, too. I can't remember his name, but anyway. I did the Maryland All-State last year and in a couple of weekends I'll be speaking to the Maryland Music Educators in their in-service-their fall in-service.
HT: Do you have an agent to help you out with that? BB: No, people just call andsay "Hey, would you" and I look at my calendar and see if I want to do it or if it's something I really want to do. And I say yes or no.
HT: It sounds like you have a very, very busy life, still.138:00
BB: I do. I do.
HT: And very enjoyable. I can tell by the smile on your face.
BB: I do. I do.
HT: Well, Barbara, thank you so much. I don't have any more questions. Is thereanything else you would like to add.
BB: Well, no. I would say you all need to name something after Dr. Cox; namesomething after him because he's prepared so many music majors and music is one of your strong degrees. You need to name something after him-and before he dies. Because he was there-I think he came in '61 and I don't know when he retired but just that group of people that he worked with. There are a lot of stars out there that owe their glowing to Dr. Cox. And even graduate students who came and studied with him. So you all need to name something after him.
HT: You'll have to put that proposal forward. That's how these things happen.139:00
BB: Yes, yes. So that's about it.
HT: Okay. All right. Well again, thank you.
BB: You're welcome. Ready for some dessert and coffee?