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Linda McInerney

2011 Speaker

Linda McInerney

A Dream Come True

The idea came in a dream. It was short, just an image really, of composer and dear friend, Paula Kimper and me sitting in the Academy of Music in Northampton. We were overwhelmed with joy listening to the great singer, Evelyn Harris, pick up her musical cue as she took in a deep breath. It was a little surprising, as I had only seen Evelyn in concerts and never as a character onstage. She was wearing a mid- 19th century costume and filled the hall with an overpowering spirit of healing and love. I looked over to Paula filled with happiness. Then I woke up.

In that waking moment I knew that she and I were watching Evelyn play Sojourner Truth in our new opera on opening night. It was a clear message, and I felt that I had been given my marching orders. But wasn’t that just crazy? An inner voice told me to ignore the fears and just charge on. I went downstairs to see who else had this idea and Googled Sojourner Truth, play, musical, opera, song. I found almost nothing. How on earth can no one have created a piece about this great woman? Then I stayed up thinking about the beauty of this idea. Sojourner Truth, a local heroine whose truth to power helped to lift us out of slavery and into the Civil Rights Movement; she was our girl. She lived here and found her voice in Florence, MA.

I thought that for the first time I must follow my inspiration and instinct and trust the dream. It was what I told all my students and now I was being tested to walk the walk. I waited til morning and got in touch with Paula Kimper who simply said yes. I called Talaya Delaney, the African American playwright, and she also said yes. So the magic really was flowing. We had no money; we just had an idea. Then I got up my courage to call Evelyn Harris, who is now singing her heart out in the role. So the dream has come to life as we ready to present a reading of TRUTH, a new folk opera about the life of Sojourner Truth with Harlem Opera Theatre in NYC and the premiere with full sets, costumes and orchestra in Northampton, MA in February, 2012.