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Mari Evans: A Generational Voice

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“I’d like to be remembered as a quintessential jazz pianist, which I am not,” says the quick-witted Mari Evans as she plays.

Composing music and tickling the ivories are among her myriad talents, but it's the written and spoken words of the 96-year-old that recently made her the recipient of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Author’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. Evans sat down with WFYI's Bob Williams for a rare interview to talk about her life and philosophy, and to read some of her poetry and even play a little Thelonious Monk.

At 96-years-old, Mari Evans still has that magic touch on the piano.
  • At 96-years-old, Mari Evans still has that magic touch on the piano.

Among her best friends were Maya Angelou and famed Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, her mentor. Remarkably, Evans remains the last known surviving member of the 1950s and ’60s Black Arts Movement. She is a renowned poet, author and political activist. “People are still wondering if I’m just trying to make trouble,” she says with a sly smile.

In this candid discussion, Evans describes what it was like to be a black woman in Indianapolis when she came here in 1947, and how she sees the race relations landscape in our city today.

Our friends at WFYI Productions are kind enough to share their special visit in Mari Evans: A Generational Voice below. Enjoy!

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