Thursday, May 15, 2014 'Farrakhan will perform with Toppin and pianist Akye Agus in Hailstork’s “Who Is Sylvia?” Honoring Sylvia Olden Lee on Sunday, May 18

The Detroit News: Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, will play violin on 'Who Is Sylvia?,' among other works. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Sylvia Olden Lee

Kimwana Doner

The Detroit NewsMichael H. HodgesDetroit News Fine Arts WriterMay 15, 2014

Who knew Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan was an accomplished violinist?
But there you have it — the Chicago-based minister will bring his considerable talents to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Sunday evening for a fundraiser and concert, “Tapestry: A Spiritual Odyssey.”
Farrakhan will join acclaimed sopranos Louise Toppin and Kimwana Doner, as well as operatic tenor George Shirley, in an evening celebrating the work of pianist and vocal coach Sylvia Olden Lee, the first African-American ever hired by the Metropolitan Opera, as well as composer Adolphus Hailstork.
Lee, who was invited to play at Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, is the musician who encouraged the adult Farrakhan to return to the violin, which he’d first picked up as a child of 6.
“Minister Farrakhan was over the moon” to be invited to perform at the Wright, says Versell Smith, one half of SmithJackson Arts, the production company that pulled the concert together. “He’s a staunch supporter of the museum and was happy to get his violin out to pay homage to his mentor, Lee.”
Among other selections, Farrakhan will perform with Toppin and pianist Akye Agus in Hailstork’s “Who Is Sylvia?”

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