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April 18, 2007

William Grant Still


In the aftermath of the massacre in Blacksburg, Virginia, the questions don't seem to end. Why did this happen? Could the tragedy have been prevented? There is one other question that surviving students will have to answer for themselves: how to get through the anguish and grief they're feeling now. Lauren Bohn knows firsthand about what it's like to live through such a tragedy. She was a student at Columbine high school in 1999 when the shootings there occurred.

She speaks to Dick Gordon about her own journey from shock to bitterness and ultimately towards forgiveness.

I ran up to my room and slammed my door and literally threw a fit and started screaming and hitting my pillow. And all the emotion that I had been [keeping] inside just came out... It was almost the release that I needed.
-Lauren Bohn

Lauren is planning on going to Virginia to talk to, and listen to, students in Blacksburg who are now facing what she went through 8 years ago.


The producers on The Story have a term: 'threading' - meaning the way one story inspires the telling of a new and different story. In February, Dick talked with Aaron Dworkin. Aaron grew up loving and playing classical music. But as a child with an Afro, he told Dick that he never felt as though he fit in anywhere. Then Aaron discovered the music of minority composers, including the works of William Grant Still, who has been called the dean of African American composers. Aaron fell in love with Grant Still's music, and dedicated his life to bringing the work of composers like him to a wider audience through his organization, Sphinx.

Today, the thread continues as Dick talks with William Grant Still's granddaughter, Celeste Headlee. Celeste trained as an opera singer, and has vivid memories of attending concerts with her grandfather on the rare occasions that his worked was staged, as well as curling up with him in his music room when she was little.

He was sitting in his normal chair, and I started to say something about somebody at school … and he started chanting the old spiritual, you know: Gossip, gossip evil 'ting.
Most unhappiness it bring.
If you can't say something nice, 
Don't talk at all is my advice.
And that stuck with me … and every time I would start to say something mean about somebody, I could hear my grandfather singing in my head!
-Celeste Headlee

 Music heard in this story:

Suite for Violin and Piano II from the album Works by William Grant Still

Afro-American Symphony: III. Animato - Humor by Karl Krueger & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the album William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony & Amy Beach: "Gaelic" Symphony, Op. 32

Darktown a Strutter's Ball by Dave Brubeck for the album Jazz Collection

Lenox Avenue: The Blues by Mark Boozer for the album William Grant Still: Piano Music: Africa - Seven Traceries - A Deserted Plantation

Troubled Island from the album William Grant Still's Troubled Island, World Premiere Performance

William Grant Still archival speech from the album William Grant Still Selected Interviews and Speeches

Lenox Avenue Works for Violin from the album Lenox Avenue

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