The Library of Congress is celebrating 220 years of advocacy and support for scholarship, literacy, education, and culture. Please join us in wishing the Library a happy birthday. This "Pick of the Week" features the 2009 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree Stevie Wonder. As part of the celebration, Stevie Wonder gave a concert in the Coolidge Auditorium and premiered his composition Sketches of a Life for chamber orchestra commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress. In addition, we bring you Stevie Wonder's conversation with former Senior Music Specialist, Norman Middleton. In his interview, he discusses his new composition, his journey as an artist and his creative process. We hope you enjoy it!
Music legend Stevie Wonder, honoree of the 2009 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, premieres "Sketches of a Life," a hybrid pop-classical work for chamber orchestra.
On Saturday, October 16, 2019, Concerts from the Library of Congress hosted Afro-Cuban jazz master, Chucho Valdés. Founder and director of the legendary Cuban jazz band Irakere, winner of six GRAMMYs and four Latin GRAMMYs, Chucho Valdés is not just an authority in the jazz world, he is a living legend. This Pick of the Week features Chucho Valdés in conversation with Music Specialist, Claudia Morales. In this fun and intimate conversation, Chucho Valdés reacts to some treasures from our music collections that include music composed by his father, one of the most representative musicians in the history of Cuban music, pianist and composer, Bebo Valdés. He also reacts to a photo of him and the American drummer Max Roach from the Max Roach Papers housed in the Music Division. Chucho’s reaction to the materials was simply heartwarming. No one talks to Chucho Valdés without talking about Irakere. I had so many questions to ask, but I was primarily interested in learning about his experience with religious syncretism, the merging of two or more religions in a new belief, as an element of his music. Chucho told me about his exposure to Santeria through his grandfather and to the Catholic church through his grandmother, and how he mixed these elements with jazz and funk to create the Timba Cubana. We concluded the interview with the question: what would you say to the new generation of musicians? Chucho’s answer was the summary of the musician that he is; he mentioned discipline as the number one characteristic a musician must have. Discipline plus passion for music have spurred this now 79-year-old Afro-Cuban jazz master to continue his musical journey that includes writing an opera, touring around the globe with a robust calendar of performances, and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting with his audience via online recitals on social media. I invite you to watch and enjoy Chucho Valdés in conversation.