About "Practicing for Love: A Memoir" by Nina Kennedy

Many of you have heard about the release of the new memoir by Nina Kennedy titled Practicing for Love (Dorrance Publishers). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the official book launch has been postponed. But we are doing as much as we can to promote the book online, and will present a virtual book launch in the coming days.

Meanwhile, here is an editorial by the author.

"This book is about my life and experiences as a daughter of college professors, a child prodigy, as a student at Juilliard, a concert pianist, and ultimately as a black woman.

I've heard a lot of white people say that they don't understand why so many blacks are so angry all the time, so I took it upon myself to explain it to them. Granted, I can only offer my own perspective as a classical musician, but I am sure I'm not the only one whose parents were discriminated against, and then hoped that the doors would be open for the next generation. I grew up listening to their complaints and heartbreak without fully understanding what racism was all about. I didn't understand that American law had kept them segregated and unequal, because I naively bought the propaganda about all men being created equal.

When I began to experience discrimination myself within the classical music world, it was hard to process because my parents did not want to hear about it. Perhaps they did not want to believe it. Or perhaps they were too guilty over pressuring me to pursue a career that was closed to me. In addition to the racism, there was sexism that they had not prepared me for. I began to believe that my parents had actually set me up for failure.

When I left America and moved to Europe, I found concert agents and managers who only did business with other men. My father was the kind of man who never really knew how to talk to whites. While I was still a teenager, he was already asking me to do the talking for him. Granted I didn't have the kind of fear that he had, but it took a while for me to get it that some white men were only interested in what a woman had to say if she was going to sleep with them. Well, I certainly wasn't going to do that, so I missed out on a lot of contracts.

It was very important for me to include details about my romantic life in the book, as well as details concerning my professional life. There was no way for me to extricate my love life from my career. Some of my career decisions were determined by who I was dating at the time. The power of love has kept me alive at times when there was no work, when I had to seriously re-evaluate the practicality of a music career.

Now in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I certainly hope that young females are no longer subjected to the kind of sexism that my generation was subjected to. But the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing how the African American community is so far behind when it comes to healthcare and income.

I only hope that my story of 'making a way out of no way' will inspire others to persevere and not take No for an answer. There are those out there who do not wish to see African Americans succeed. It may be because of insecurity, or a belief that our success threatens theirs in some way. Some African Americans have grown weary of this, as my parents did. But we cannot afford the luxury of growing weary. If we are going to survive, especially now, we must keep fighting and telling the truth."

Nina Kennedy


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