IN REMEMBRANCE: 4-10-2016

INGE HARDISON, NOTED SCULPTOR AND ARTIST

Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2016 6:16 pm

NEW YORK — Inge Hardison, a sculptor, artist, and photographer, known particularly for her 1960s busts entitled “Negro Giants in History,” has died. She reportedly died on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in New York City due to Alzheimer’s disease. She was 102.

Ruth Inge Hardison was born in Portsmouth, Va. on Feb. 3, 1914. Her family moved to Brooklyn to escape segregation in the South. She graduated from Girls High School and began a brief career on Broadway where she appeared in an all-Black production of “Anna Lucasta” and in “The Country Wife” with Ruth Gordon. And it was during the yearlong run of “What a Life,” that Hardison began making clay sculptures for fun.

In the 1960’s, the former actress sculpted a cast-iron collection called “Negro Giants in History,” which included George Washington Carver, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson and Harriet Tubman. She is also acknowledged for her series, ‘Ingenious Americans,” which features Black inventors.

She has contributed so much to Manhattan, including the bronze bust of Jackie Robinson at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center in Harlem, the five-foot-high mother and child that she donated to the Mount Sinai Hospital in 1957, the abstract figure title “Jubilee” on the campus of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and a mural of 18 children on the side of Intermediate School 74 in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx.

Her work also includes the bust of Frederick Douglass in the reference room of Princeton University’s Firestone Library and a sculpture of Sojouner Truth that was presented to Nelson Mandela by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York.

“By memorializing such great, selfless people,” she once said, “I have been able to put within the experience of many schoolchildren, college students and adults those much-needed models of inspiration, and many of those who read the biographies of these sculptured heroes are encouraged to try to make their own lives more meaningful.”

Hardison was the founding member of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters formed in 1969.

She is survived by her daughter, Yolande Hardison, a grandson and three great-grandchildren.

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MERLE HAGGARD, COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND

Merle Haggard dead

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

April 6, 2016 | 10:43AM PT

Country legend Merle Haggard, often called “the Poet of the Common Man,” whose music reflected his hardscrabble roots and hard-living ways as well as a tenderness that made him a revered songwriter, died Wednesday at his home near Redding, Calif. He was 79.

The Associated Press confirmed his death.

Haggard along with fellow Bakersfield, Calif., superstar Buck Owens defined the West Coast sound of country music in the 1960s and ’70s.

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Emerging from Bakersfield’s raucous honky-tonky country music scene of the post WWII-era, first recording for the local Tally label and then for Capitol Records, Haggard became a towering figure, producing 38 chart-topping records along with his longtime recording and touring band, the Strangers. Among his biggest hits were the controversial “Okie From Muskogee” — alternately seen as a reactionary Nixon-era anthem or a good-hearted spoof of heartland mores — as well as enduring and much-covered ballads such as “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “If We Make It Through December,” “Sing Me Back Home” and “Hungry Eyes.” His uptempo “drinking” songs such as “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Swingin’ Doors,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and “Working Man Blues” helped create the prototype of 1960s and ’70s country honky-tonk hits.

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Two of his best-regarded albums were tributes to early country star Jimmie Rodgers (“Same Train, A Different Time,” 1969) and Western swing bandleader Bob Wills (“A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World,” 1970).

Haggard scored with several film and TV hits over the years, most notably penning and singing the eponymous theme song for the 1974 TV series “Movin’ On,” as well as chart-toppers “Barroom Buddies” and “Misery and Gin” for Clint Eastwood’s film “Bronco Billy.” “Mama Tried” was featured in the crime film “Killers Three,” in which Haggard also co-starred.

Haggard was born in Oildale, Calif., to Oklahoma immigrants who migrated west during the Great Depression, and he quite literally grew up in a boxcar, albeit one converted into a home. His father died when Haggard was 9, and in his early life he committed a series of petty crimes, leading to longer and longer incarcerations. But Haggard was also gaining a reputation in the Bakersfield area as a first-rate singer and instrumentalist. Holding his own onstage with his idol, country music great Lefty Frizzell, was an indication of the career ahead of him, once he put crime and punishment behind him.

A botched robbery, however, saw him tried as an adult and sent to San Quentin, where he spent three years. Haggard recalled that seeing Johnny Cash onstage in San Quentin in 1958 was a particular inspiration, and the two men later became close friends and mutual fans.

Once out of prison, Haggard worked blue-collar day jobs and played the rowdy honky-tonks of Bakersfield at night, which led to him cutting several tracks for Tally.

Haggard’s first released song was the minor hit “Skid Row.” A cover of country superstar Wynn Stewart’s “Sing a Sad Song” charted nationally in 1964. The following year he had his first national top-10 record with “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” followed in 1966 by his first No. 1 song, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.”

Haggard, in a 1999 interview with Variety, described his rise as he moved from local music sensation to national star after signing with Capitol Records: “We had this little label in Bakersfield (Tally) that we were doing pretty good on. About 1964, I think it was, we sold forty-something-thousand records out of our apartment back before the interweb (sic) and all that shit. So Capitol called us and said, ‘Don’t you think it’s time you let us help you?’

“They were also disappointed in everything but the Beatles. There was nothing in the world selling except Beatle music. Every country act in the entire f–king world had just got fired. And it just so happened that during that really strange Beatlemania I got a goddamn hit.”

The ’60s and ’70s were Haggard’s peak period creatively and professionally. Haggard scored hits for three labels — Capitol, Epic and MCA — before turning to independent label status in the late ’90s. He briefly returned to Capitol (via its Nashville division) in the new millennium, and released a collaborative album with Willie Nelson, “Django and Jimmie,” through Sony Legacy in 2015; the latter set reached No. 1 on the country chart and No. 7 on the pop side.

While Haggard’s stature as one of the music industry’s top acts grew over the decades, his personal life endured rocky patches. As his two autobiographies attest, the much-married and divorced Haggard struggled with alcohol and drug dependencies well into the ’90s, when health and financial problems took him to medical rehabilitation and an IRS lien proceeding decimated his ownership of dozens of hits in his valuable song catalog.

Haggard described his strategy for creative and financial survival during that difficult time to Variety in 1999, noting, “Making records is something I guess I’ll always do, because of the fact that I’m a songwriter.”

Between 1965 and 1974 Haggard scored 11 Academy of Country Music honors as well as four top Country Music Assn. honors.

He won two competitive Grammys, as well as a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame for his song “Mama Tried.” He was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and was a Kennedy Center Honors inductee in 2010.

The musician continued touring through his late 70s despite mounting health problems.

Haggard is survived by his wife, Theresa Ann Lane; their children Jenessa and Ben Haggard, the latter of whom served as lead guitarist in the Strangers for several years; and his children from previous marriages, Marty, Noel, Dana and Kelli. Married five times, his second and third wives were stage and recording partners Bonnie Owens and Leona Williams.

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WINSTON MOSELEY, CRIME SPURRED ADOPTION OF THE 911 SYSTEM

A man convicted of the 1964 stabbing death of Kitty Genovese in a crime that came to symbolize urban decay and indifference has died in prison at age 81.

Winston Moseley died on March 28 at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, state prisons spokesman Thomas Mailey said. An autopsy will try to determine the cause of Moseley’s death.

Genovese was a 28-year-old bar manager. Her killing caused an outcry after reports that neighbors saw the attack and heard her screams but did not try to help her. Details of the accounts were challenged, but the crime spurred the adoption of the 911 system and Good Samaritan laws.

Moseley spent more than 50 years in prison and was one of the state’s longest-serving inmates. He was denied parole 18 times, the last time in 2015. His prison mates included David Sweat and Richard Matt, who cut their way out of the maximum-security facility last year. A massive three-week manhunt ended with Matt killed and Sweat captured.

In 1968, Moseley was involved in a prison breakout, during which he held hostages in Buffalo and raped a woman before being recaptured. He joined the Attica uprising in 1971 and earned a college degree from Niagara University in 1977.

“I know that I did some terrible things, and I’ve tried very hard to atone for those things in prison,” he said in a November 2013 parole interview. “I think almost 50 years of paying for those crimes is enough.”

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