In celebration of Women’s History Month throughout March, we asked women from across the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus to honor a woman from the past by answering a single question:
“If you could have a conversation with any woman from performing arts history, who would you choose, and why?”
"My mother used to play her music when I was a child, and I would want to from her how she achieved her prominent status in the operatic field. And I would especially love to hear her sing!"
Shelia Burstein, Volunteer honoring Marian Anderson, Contralto
"Josephine Baker is the epitome of glamour and grace. In a time where black, queer women were largely excluded, she broke stereotypes and stood up for what was right, refusing to perform for segregated audiences, and writing articles and giving lectures about the racism she encountered."
Kenya Gayles, Education Program Coordinator honoring Josephine Baker, Entertainer, Dancer, and Activist
"I would want to talk with Helen Mirren because she is an accomplished, strong, independent woman. She is reminder that we need to continue to be determined and go after the things we want in life."
Heather Goforth, Director of Safety and Security honoring Helen Mirren, Actress
"Ardis Kranik was one of the first women in North America to run an opera company and, at the time, Lyric Opera of Chicago was second only to the MET. Ardis was a visionary yet always had her feet planted firmly on the ground.While I was able to know her fleetingly, a conversation now would be invaluable."
Anne Ewers, President & CEO honoring Ardis Kranik, Mezzo-soprano and general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago
"I became aware of Nina Simone through her song "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black" and her raw poetry. There is no one else who presents artistry with such clarity and unrestrained courage like her. I learned from her songs and poetry how to have the "Power to Stand Strong" in my dark skin and all of its glory."
Karen Turner, Accounts Payable and Payroll Administrator honoring Nina Simone, Singer, Songwriter, Poet, & Activist
"I would love to have a conversation with LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty of The Andrews Sisters. I listen to them a lot on 40's on 4 in my car, and their harmonies are something else. I'd want to hear about what it was like living and performing in the 1940's – I imagine times were pretty crazy for performing artists then. I'd also want to know where they got their sweet outfits from!"
Helen Smith, Programming Manager honoring The Andrews Sisters, Singers
"Throughout her life, Judy Garland innovated a career that transcended the impression of what a singer, a woman, a mother can accomplish. It seemed there was nothing she couldn't do. She was fearless, fierce, and outstandingly beautiful. I would want the opportunity to thank her – she is responsible for some of my favorite songs and performance moments, and I so admire her power as a woman both on and off stage."
Danielle Rose, Patron Services Supervisor & Access Services Specialist at Ticket Philadelphia honoring Judy Garland, Actress, Singer, and Dancer
"If I could have a conversation with any woman from performing arts history, it would be with Anoushka Shankar. As a sitar player, Anoushka Shankar has brought classical Indian music to the forefront of the performing arts industry, specifically in western societies, without wavering in her Indian identity. I'd love to hear her story."
Manisha Modi, Audience Development/Group Sales Manager honoring Anoushka Shankar, Sitar Player and Composer
"Martha Graham was an American modern dance innovator, with an inspiring career spanning 70 years. In college, I studied the Graham technique and enjoyed the breath work and expressive movement and I would love to speak to her about her craft."
Hannah Lermitte, Manager of Special Events honoring Martha Graham, Dancer and Choreographer
"I would want to meet Maria Callas who was one of the greatest sopranos of all time. She was legendary, but her life was filled with so much tragedy. I would just love to hear her talk about her life and her amazing career."
Kay Rinko, Volunteer honoring Maria Callas, Soprano