ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

An Exceptional Oral History with Micki Grant Closes an Historic Year

It’s a great thing when people see your work and remember it,” remarked Ms. Grant with typical candor and warmth

A historic pandemic could not derail The League of Professional Theatre Women’s ongoing Oral History Project.

The League of Professional Theatre Women’s ongoing Oral History Project, founded by Betty Corwin in partnership with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, has for 26 years preserved the legacies of great theatre women, across all theatrical disciplines.

Last November League member Richarda Abrams sat down virtually with Micki Grant to discuss her extraordinary career as an actress, singer, composer, writer and director. Touching on it all, she offered insight, some observations, and some wonderful memories.

My mother never once made me feel as if I could not do what I aspired to do. She was always in my corner. If you don’t have that you have to be in your own corner . . . Langston (Hughes) was a big encourager of mine.

On having 3 shows running concurrently: “All those actors working! That I had put all those actors to work! That was the most gratifying for me.

On directing: “I got to work with my friend, Ruby Dee. Oh! Did we have fun! Who did I think I was directing Ossie Davis? But that opportunity was given to me. That was a test.

Micki Grant (L) answers audience questions selected by Richarda Abrams (R) during the remote Q&A

On advice to actors, playwrights, directors, composers, musicians and lyricists who might want to follow in her footsteps: “If you can visualize it and if it’s real to you, it’s already partly accomplished. Even things standing in your way can be moved…Have the big dream. Make the dream real. I always dream it first.

On what she might do in the future:

We’re in a very dramatic moment. Black Lives Matter. There’s a reason for saying that. We have to remind people sometimes.

I’d like to tell our history. About people who did so much for us. I would like to tell the individual stories. Harriet Tubman. She kept going back. I’d like to tell that story as a musical….Or maybe I’ll just write one great number about Harriet.”

Ms. Grant has been awarded an honorary doctorate, Grammy for Best Score from an original cast album; an OBIE Award for music and lyrics; a Drama Desk Award for lyrics and performance; an Outer Critics Circle Award for music, lyrics and performance, and five Tony nominations! Additionally, she is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award. Ms. Grant’s legacy will be preserved in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the NYPL for the Performing Arts.

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