Maya Angelou

Born Marguerite Johnson, Maya Angelou, now 78, has spent her
life following her heart, speaking her mind, and inspiring people
the world over. She’s been a chef, a madam, a dancer, a singer, a
producer, a director, an actress, a playwright, an educator, a
historian, a civil-rights activist, a journalist, a poet, and a
mother. Her life’s path has included stays in Stamps, Arkansas; St.
Louis, Missouri; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Honolulu; Harlem;
Cairo, Egypt; and Accra, Ghana, and is dotted with spots of tragedy
and failure, joy and success. After being raped by her mother’s
boyfriend at the age of seven, Angelou was so traumatized that she
was unable to speak for several years. But when she reclaimed that
inimitable voice, she wasn’t fooling around. Her poetry and
bestselling autobiographies are as witty, wise, honest, thoughtful,
and impassioned as the woman herself, and on May 3, she’ll share
that voice with Santa Barbara in a night of song and spoken word at
the Arlington Theatre.

Angelou’s most recent works include the autobiography and
current bestseller A Song Flung Up to Heaven, which chronicles her
return from Africa to the U.S., the violent deaths of Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Malcolm X (friends with whom she’d worked),
campaigning for civil rights, and the birth of her writing career.
Also popular is the cookbook Halleluja! The Welcome Table, which
presents her recipes in the context of memories, and the Christmas
Poem Amazing Peace, which she wrote for the 2005 White House
tree-lighting ceremony.

— Shannon Kelley Gould


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