Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928), has been highly inspirational and influential in my personal life and music career, as well as many other artists. She is one of the people who has been key in me learning more about linguistics and to dig more into history. A master wordsmith and highly decorated author and poet who penned numerous autobiographies, essays, plays and films. One of her most noted works that brought her to international recognition is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which tells of her first seventeen years.
Angelou is one of the most honored writers of her generation. She has been honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors have included a National Book Award nomination for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. In 1995, Angelou's publishing company, Random House, recognized her for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List. She has served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou has been awarded over thirty honorary degrees.
Gloria Rolando, an Afro-Cuban filmmaker who has produced a film in 2004 titled "Nosotros y el Jazz" (The Jazz in Us), which focuses on Jazz music and its relation to the history shared by Afro-Cubans and African-Americans through their common culture. Rolando has raised quite a stir with her series of documentaries, most notably from her 1997 release of "Eyes of the Rainbow", a film about Assata Shakur, former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who took refuge in Cuba. Currently Rolando is here in Houston speaking at various local museums , universities and libraries. I have plans to go hear her speak later today and wish her a very happy birthday.