Sunday, February 12, 2012 'Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes leaps from the page'

[From left, jazz veteran Joe Sealy, author Lawrence Hill and Nathaniel Dett Chorale founder Brainerd Blyden-Taylor. (Aaron Harris/For the Toronto Star)]

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) and Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works list for R. Nathaniel Dett by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,

By Nick Krewen 
Special to the Star 
Feb 12, 2012

Bestselling novel The Book of Negroes is going multimedia.
On Valentine’s Day, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, led by founder and artistic director Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, is teaming up with author Lawrence Hill and jazz veteran pianist and composer Joe Sealy at Toronto’s acoustically pristine Koerner Hall. There they will present an evening of music and narrative based on Hill’s award-winning novel, a fictional work inspired by a non-fictional historical registry of the same name, and portions of Sealy’s Juno Award-winning Africville Suite.

Titled Voices of the Diaspora . . . The Book of Negroes, the program will intersperse Hill reading excerpts from his book with relevant classical, folk, gospel, spiritual and jazz works by Canadian composers Nathaniel Dett and Brian Tate; Americans Adolphus Hailstork and Moses Hogan; and others, including veteran Sealy. 'This is a wonderful juxtaposition of literature and music,' said Blyden-Taylor at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, prior to a Wednesday evening rehearsal of the program. It’s illuminating a part of history. It’s inviting people to consider aspects of things that occurred; to be moved and entertained at the same time.”

Hill says the catalyst of his novel, named after the historical registry kept by British loyalists listing the 3,000 black citizens who supported the British army during the American Revolutionary War — and were allowed to flee Manhattan for Canada as a reward — was introduced to him through a book published by James Walker, a history professor at the University Of Waterloo, in 1977.

'My mind was blown,' recalls Hill. 'It seemed to me to be something that should be enshrined in national consciousness. It was such a staggering document and represented such hugely symbolic and real migrations. Learning in the same book that 1,200 loyalists left Nova Scotia, went to Africa, the first back-to-Africa exodus in the history of the world — not from Jamaica, or not from the States as people might imagine — but from Halifax in 1792, I just had to write the book.'
Voices of the Diaspora … The Book of Negroes plays Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W., Tuesday at 8 p.m. Tickets from $39 at 416-408-0208 or”

No comments: