St. John's Confidential File
MSJ: Jackie, it seems like yesterday when you, your close friend May and I were sitting in the U.S.C. cafeteria excited about the completion of “Carmen Jones” and what the future might hold.
MH: Oh yes, I do remember. And I also remember when you and I was asked to sing for Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich when he was visiting this country. It was quite a moment for both of us.
MSJ: Obviously we both have experienced and learned a lot since that time. You went to
MH: She was a wonderful singing coach; I learned so much about being focused and not fearful of hard work. It’s something I continue to instill in my own students I coach today throughout the country.
MSJ: Were you easily accepted by other well known singers when you first appeared not only in American halls, but the European ones as well?
MH: For the most part, yes, but there are always those who are envious and not easy to be around. You know that. And there are divas and there are DIVAS, if you know what I mean. I remember I was performing Sheherezade in
MSJ: Where you hurt by the way Maria Callas refused to acknowledge you by not coming back stage to at least say hello?
MH: No, not really. If she had I, of course, would have enjoyed the idea of meeting her. Who wouldn’t? I was simply amused by it all. One learns very quickly to handle certain situations, especially in our business.
MSJ: You were married to Afro-American musician Henry Lewis in 1960, was it a difficult time for you as a woman, one who was determined to succeed in a career?
MH: Of course it had its pressures, especially during that time when our country was going through so many cultural changes right across the board. But I’ve never allowed myself to bow to ignorance because you do irreparable damage to everything you believe in that’s good. Henry was a fine musician (bass player) and conductor. We enjoyed each other and had much in common. We met at U.S.C. as you know, both ended up in
MSJ: You seem extremely accepting about life and who you are today, has that taken a long time to accomplish?
MH: No, not really. You have to be willing to learn, accept and put things in perspective that is genuinely meaningful in your life. I love music. I also enjoy the opportunity to work with those who are willing to challenge themselves in the game of performance. I feel we are born or exist to do certain things and once you accept that reality then the path to that objective presents tons of exciting experiences. The journey is what makes us who we are.
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