Sunday, January 17, 2010

'In Memoriam: Raoul Abdul (1929-2010)'

Music critic, author, singer, Raoul Abdul née Raoul Abdul Rahim died in Manhattan Friday, 15 January 2010, shortly after bypass surgery. Abdul was a concert baritone and German lieder expert who studied voice with renowned Russian baritone, Alexander Kipnis from 1959 to 1962. It was under Kipnis’ tutelage that Abdul earned a diploma from Vienna Academy of Music. Abdul also studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Harvard University.

At the time of his passing Abdul was the music critic for the New York Amsterdam News. His column was titled “Reading the Score.” Abdul’s books include Blacks in Classical Music; Famous Black Entertainers of Today; and The Magic of Black Poetry. He also edited Alan Lomax’s 3000 Years of Black Poetry, following a journalism career launched in his native Cleveland. Abdul’s scholarly writings were described by Eileen Southern as the result of 'solid, intensive research.' From 1961 Abdul served as Langston Hughes’ literary assistant until his death in 1967.

Abdul conducted popular Lied Klasse (German lieder classes) in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, and Sunday-afternoon salons in Harlem. He maintained a private vocal performance studio in his Chelsea, NYC, home, often serving his famous chili on bone china. Abdul’s lifelong partner, attorney Richard Haber, predeceased him.

Abdul was an only child who was orphaned at an early age. His father was from Calcutta, India, his mother was a Cleveland, OH, native. Abdul is survived by cousins Artis Lane (renowned sculptor); Blake Shreve and Bryce Shreve, whose Mother, Ada Shreve raised Abdul. Other cousins include pianist Buster Harding who wrote for Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, et al; and master composer and pianist Dr. Hale Smith.

This world is a quieter place tonight. The meticulous baritone who was White House guest of Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, has joined ranks with the Ancestors. Those of us who were blessed by Raoul’s infectious smile, cheerful generosity, and ubiquitous ear for gossip are enriched beyond measure. Abdul often shared a valuable lesson he learned from Howard Swanson, 'Be satisfied to serve art without regard for financial rewards—they will come in time.'
Regina Harris Baiocchi Chicago, IL”


eudora said...

The raoul Abdul kelly Wyatt German Lieder classes with the wonderful singers,will always be a time I look back on in Joy! I had the courage to come to Vienna because of the wonderful work and private study! we always met when e was vacationing in Vienna. He was so encouraging..because of him I never gave up!We wrote to each other.It meant so much a to know He was proud of me.
I am so glad I spent wonderful Hours with him when I was home last spring. although we were sad about kelly Wyatt.Raoul you will be greatly missed, But you will remain in our hearts.And your smile is unforgettable...

Eudora Price, Concert Singer


It is a sad day for me. I found friendship in Raoul despite our age gap. He was a kind and happy soul. His spirit was the best part of him. His talents and stories were something I looked forward to everyday. RIP Raoul. You will be missed.