Who is Nina Kennedy?

Nina Kennedy is a world-renowned concert pianist, orchestral conductor, and award-winning filmmaker. She gave her first complete piano recital at nine years old, and appeared as piano soloist with the Nashville Symphony playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at age 13. She holds a master's degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Leonard Bernstein. Kurt Masur acted as her conducting mentor during his tenure as music director with the New York Philharmonic and L'Orchestre National de France. For 12 years she lived and performed in Europe, residing in Amsterdam, Vienna, Cologne, and Paris.

Nina wrote the script for a short film produced by Alberto Ferreras of HBO that was selected for screenings at the Berlin International Film Festival, New York's New Fest, as well as international film festivals in Frankfurt, Jerusalem, London, Los Angeles, Munich, Oslo, Philadelphia, and Sydney. 

 

Nina also produced and directed the documentary film about her father, former director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, titled Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey, which was selected and screened at international film festivals including the African Diaspora Film Festival in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and Nashville's International Film Festival (NaFF) as well as the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. For this film, she was awarded the Rosetta Miller Perry prize for "Best Film by a Black Filmmaker." 

Nina Kennedy is the host of The Noshing with Nina Show, an award-winning cable television talk show produced at Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

Nina's first book of memoirs was published this year, Practicing for Love: A Memoir.

Click Here to view Nina Kennedy's New York Times review.
 

Nina Kennedy is available for orchestral engagements; solo recitals; spoken-word performances; lectures; 

screenings of her documentary film Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey, followed by Q&As; and book readings of her memoir Practicing for Love, followed by Q&As.

Click below to learn more about Nina Kennedy.

To Request Booking Information:

 
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Nina Kennedy is a certified SheSource expert.

JAMES BALDWIN: AMERICAN NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, ESSAYIST, POET, AND ACTIVIST

Internationally acclaimed concert pianist, award-winning filmmaker & TV Talk Show Host Nina Kennedy explores BALDWIN AND THE INTERNAL CLOSET at The International James Baldwin Conference in Saint Paul de Vence.

Nina Kennedy is available for lectures and Q&As. 

Nina Kennedy moderates a panel that consists of four women - a nod to Nina Simone - and will have a musical/artistic focus. Baldwin's internalized homophobia will be discussed, and how his view of women, in general, was shaped by his mother and sisters, his Baptist preacher father, by religious dogma and by racism. Learn More about the panel.

"ELLA SHEPPARD: JUBILEE SINGER, COMPOSER, FORMER SLAVE"

Internationally acclaimed concert pianist and award-winning filmmaker Nina Kennedy explains how a simple melody composed by an American slave girl ended up in a world-famous European Symphony (Antonín Dvořák's Symphony from the New World), and was thus heard in concert halls around the globe.

Nina Kennedy is available for lectures and Q&As. 

Ella Sheppard was born on Andrew Jackson's plantation "The Hermitage" 10 years before the beginning of the Civil War. Her mother, determined that Ella would not live life as a slave, was seconds away from drowning her daughter and herself, when a mysterious old slave woman appeared and announced that "...God has need for this child. She is gonna sing for kings and queens." Fearing for Ella's safety, the family's master allowed Ella's father to purchase her freedom for $350.

Lo and behold, the old woman's prophecy came true, and Ella Sheppard traveled to Europe as a member of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee, where they performed for European royalty. As an arranger, she notated the melodies and harmonies of "Negro Spirituals," thus bringing them to the great concert halls of the world. Czech composer Antonín Dvořák was so moved by one of her melodies that he quoted a fragment of it in his famous Symphony from the New World, thus solidifying Ella Sheppard's place as an internationally recognized American composer.

Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey

Directed and produced by Nina Kennedy

WINNER OF THE ROSETTA MILLER PERRY AWARD FOR BEST FILM BY A BLACK FILMMAKER AT THE NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

This award-winning documentary film tells the story of the charmed life of Matthew Kennedy, African-American concert pianist, composer, and former director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Nina Kennedy is available for screenings and Q&As. 

Born in the segregated South in 1921, Matthew Kennedy was known throughout his home state of Georgia as a child-prodigy. At age 12, he attended a concert given by the famous Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in Macon, Georgia in 1932. He is one of few surviving witnesses of Rachmaninoff’s magic. In his filmed interviews, Mr. Kennedy vividly describes what he remembers of the concert from his perspective in the segregated balcony for “Colored.” He was also the star of his own radio show broadcast from Macon in the early 1930s. (At that time, Matthew’s stage name on radio and in the cinema – where he played the organ to accompany the silent films – was “Sunshine.”)

Eventually he attended the Juilliard School in New York, traveled the world as a concert pianist, and directed the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee from 1957 to 1986.

Founded in 1871, the Fisk Jubilee Singers are best known for their a cappella renditions of “Negro Spirituals,” and traveled the world to raise money for the fledgling Fisk School, one of America's first HBCUs. They sang for the crowned heads of Europe, and Queen Victoria proclaimed “… they sing so beautifully they must be from the ‘Music City.’”

The '"Practicing for Love" Book Series

by Nina Kennedy

The three books of the "Practicing for Love" series are titled "Practicing for Love: A Memoir," "Practice What You Preach," and "Practice Made Perfect." These are the memoirs on the life of Nina Kennedy - pianist, conductor, award-winning filmmaker and television talk show host.

Nina Kennedy is available for readings and Q&As. 

About the Practicing for Love Series:

 

The three books of memoirs by concert pianist, award-winning filmmaker and television talk show host Nina Kennedy. 

 

In the first book Practicing for Love: A Memoir, Nina shares details of her mixed-race ancestry, her parents’ careers as concert pianist and college professors, and her own accomplishments as a child-prodigy and award-winning performer. There are also the tales of her romantic liaisons that blossom after years of being in the closet. By the end of the book she has entered into a long-term relationship with her partner of ten years, and then makes homes in three European cities: Vienna, Cologne, and Paris.
 

In the second book Practice What You Preach, Nina describes a shift in professional focus that results in the production of an award-winning documentary film on the life of her father, titled Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey. She takes the film to several international film festivals. While in the throes of producing and promoting this film, she meets and falls in love with an African diplomat who is employed at the United Nations. Thus begins a torrid affair that reveals extreme cultural differences, as Nina’s longing to be embraced by Mother Africa is frustrated by homophobia, deep-seated sexism, and anti-Americanism.

 

In the third book Practice Made Perfect, Nina has returned to the United States and has been invited to perform in a concert that is a celebration of her father’s ninetieth birthday. In the aftermath of the success of her documentary film, her father has become quite a local celebrity. Her own performance sparks her interest in returning to the concert stage, from which she has been absent for several years.

 

Around this time, she makes an entry in her journal that describes to a T the kind of lover she is looking for. On the same day, a young lady has ventured into the women’s scene in New York City, and has made the decision to search for love there. As fate would have it, the two women meet at the Cubby Hole in the West Village. The rest, as they say, is history. April is married to a man, and is raising his two children from his first marriage. Nina is welcomed into this family (at first), and embarks on her first hands-on parenting experience. The two women eventually launch a successful production company and an award-winning cable television show.

 

CONCERT PIANIST

& ORCHESTRAL CONDUCTOR

Nina Kennedy has performed in recital and as soloist with orchestras throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and South America. She was a conducting apprentice under Maestro Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic and L'Orchestre National de France.

                     

Nina Kennedy is available for solo recitals, orchestral engagements, and lecture recitals. 

The Sunday morning following Nina Kennedy’s Lincoln Center debut, New Yorkers read of her “nine-minute standing ovation,” and the arrival of “a new outstanding performer on the classical music scene.” The German press proclaimed her “A MASTER OF THE PIANO” (headline), marveling at her “personal flair with stupefying execution.” Critics in the Netherlands called her “a great artist… superb… the finest imaginable.” The British press called her performances “Brilliant,” with reference to the “ample fireworks at her disposal.”

A former child prodigy, Nina Kennedy was presented in her first complete solo recital at age nine. At 13, her performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as piano soloist with the Nashville Symphony received a standing ovation from an audience of over 4,000. Her television and radio broadcasts include a recital for the BBC in London, performances of the Beethoven 2nd Piano Concerto with the Jackson (Mississippi) Symphony for PBS, and the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto with the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra recorded live for broadcast on NPR.

Winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowship, she holds a master’s degree from The Juilliard School where she was awarded the prestigious Petschek Scholarship. She is the subject of a mini-documentary produced for PBS titled Portrait: An American Concert Pianist.

 

“A fine pianist…  Her playing was distinguished by its poetic thoughtfulness… sounded sensuous and piquant… committed and persuasive.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The New York Times

 

Born in the segregated South in 1921, Matthew Kennedy was known throughout his home state of Georgia as a child prodigy. At age 12, he attended a concert given by the famous Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in Macon, Georgia in 1932. He is one of few surviving witnesses of Rachmaninoff’s magic. In his filmed interviews, Mr. Kennedy vividly describes what he remembers of the concert from his perspective in the segregated balcony for “Colored.” He was also the star of his own radio show broadcast from Macon in the early 1930s. (At that time, Matthew’s stage name on radio and in the cinema – where he played the organ to accompany the silent films – was “Sunshine.”)

Eventually, he attended the Juilliard School in New York, traveled the world as a concert pianist, and directed the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee from 1957 to 1986.

Founded in 1871, the Fisk Jubilee Singers are best known for their a cappella renditions of “Negro Spirituals,” and traveled the world to raise money for the fledgling Fisk School, one of America's first HBCUs. They sang for the crowned heads of Europe, and Queen Victoria proclaimed “… they sing so beautifully they must be from the ‘Music City.’”

Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey

Directed and produced by Nina Kennedy

WINNER OF THE ROSETTA MILLER PERRY AWARD FOR BEST FILM BY A BLACK FILMMAKER AT THE NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

This award-winning documentary film tells the story of the charmed life of Matthew Kennedy, African-American concert pianist, composer, and former director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Nina Kennedy is available for screenings and Q&As. 

For more information about 

Matthew Kennedy:

One Man's Journey,

visit the IMDb page.

A Look Back at the Life and Legacy of Anne Gamble Kennedy

Nina Kennedy curated a virtual exhibit to celebrate the 100th birthday of Fisk professor Anne Gamble Kennedy on her life and career.  In the exhibit, you will see photographs and newspaper articles on her concerts and tours with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, as well as a commissioned portrait by esteemed artist Aaron Douglas. There is correspondence to then Miss Gamble from John W. Work III and Fisk President Charles S. Johnson, as well as personal notes from Duke Ellington, Marian Anderson, W.C. Handy, et al. You will also hear music from her newly released 1947 studio recording, and her arrangement of The Lord's Prayer performed by her husband Matthew Kennedy. Purchase at Celebrate Life's Moments.

Nina Kennedy is currently working on her next documentary film.

Working Title:

The Noshing with Nina Show:

A Documentary

Executive Producer, Nina Kennedy

Director and Co-Producer, April Gibson

We could use your help.

Submit your tax-deductible donation today! Thank you!

 

Nina Kennedy, Spoken-Word Artist

 

As a spoken-word performer, Nina Kennedy had appeared at the Women’s One World (W.O.W.) Café Theatre, the Dixon Place Theater, and the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!) in New York City, as well as several of New York’s nightclubs. She has also performed at the Frauen Café and the WUK Women's Center in Vienna.

 

She is the subject of a short film chronicling her work as a spoken-word performer, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, and was subsequently screened at film festivals worldwide. She was also engaged to give spoken-word performances at many of these festivals.

 

Works available by the author:

 

Feels Like a Woman, Screenplay,

Collection of Short Stories,

The Miracle of the Bread and Fish, Stage play,

Handy Love, Stage play, 

Wagner’s Ring Recycled, Stage play, 

Practicing for Love: A Memoir.

The '"Practicing for Love" Book Series

by Nina Kennedy

The three books of the "Practicing for Love" series are titled "Practicing for Love: A Memoir," "Practice What You Preach," and "Practice Made Perfect." These are the memoirs on the life of Nina Kennedy - pianist, conductor, award-winning filmmaker and television talk show host.

Nina Kennedy is available for readings and Q&As. 

About the Practicing for Love Series:

 

The three books of memoirs by concert pianist, award-winning filmmaker and television talk show host Nina Kennedy. 

 

In the first book Practicing for Love: A Memoir, Nina shares details of her mixed-race ancestry, her parents’ careers as concert pianist and college professors, and her own accomplishments as a child-prodigy and award-winning performer. There are also the tales of her romantic liaisons that blossom after years of being in the closet. By the end of the book she has entered into a long-term relationship with her partner of ten years, and then makes homes in three European cities: Vienna, Cologne, and Paris.
 

In the second book Practice What You Preach, Nina describes a shift in professional focus that results in the production of an award-winning documentary film on the life of her father, titled Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey. She takes the film to several international film festivals. While in the throes of producing and promoting this film, she meets and falls in love with an African diplomat who is employed at the United Nations. Thus begins a torrid affair that reveals extreme cultural differences, as Nina’s longing to be embraced by Mother Africa is frustrated by homophobia, deep-seated sexism, and anti-Americanism.

 

In the third book Practice Made Perfect, Nina has returned to the United States and has been invited to perform in a concert that is a celebration of her father’s ninetieth birthday. In the aftermath of the success of her documentary film, her father has become quite a local celebrity. Her own performance sparks her interest in returning to the concert stage, from which she has been absent for several years.

 

Around this time, she makes an entry in her journal that describes to a T the kind of lover she is looking for. On the same day, a young lady has ventured into the women’s scene in New York City, and has made the decision to search for love there. As fate would have it, the two women meet at the Cubby Hole in the West Village. The rest, as they say, is history. April is married to a man, and is raising his two children from his first marriage. Nina is welcomed into this family (at first), and embarks on her first hands-on parenting experience. The two women eventually launch a successful production company and an award-winning cable television show.

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1981 Kennedy Trio Concert Appreciation P

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