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On Saturday, May 5, 2007, African Voices, the premier Black literary arts magazine, will present a musical and poetic tribute to Nobel prize-winning author and humanitarian Toni Morrison. Ms. Morrison will be the recipient of the organization’s Ellie Charles Artists Awards for her contributions to the literary community. The celebration will include performances by Grammy Award-winning singer Cassandra Wilson, Ron K. Brown’s Evidence, the Noel Pointer String Trio and Obediah Wright’s Balance Dance Theatre. Poet Sonia Sanchez, and Howard Dodson, the Chief of the Schomburg Center, are among the many special guests participating in the tribute ceremony. The program is a benefit for African Voices, a non-profit literary magazine that sponsors readings, the Reel Sisters Film Festival and other cultural events. The reception begins at 5:30 pm and awards ceremony starts at 6:30 pm at Columbia University, Lerner Hall (116th St. & Broadway). For tickets call 212 865-2982 or visit

Ellie Charles Artists Awards is named after the organization's first chairperson Eleanor "Ellie" Charles who dedicated her life to supporting the arts, education and young people. In 1998, the late legendary photographer Gordon Parks became the first artist to receive African Voices distinguished artist award. Past Ellie Award recipients are actress/activist Ruby Dee and award-winning authors Walter Mosley and Wole Soyinka, poets Sonia Sanchez, Jessica Care Moore-Poole and Amiri Baraka, Imhotep Gary Byrd, theater/film producer Voza Rivers and actress Phyllis Yvonne Stickney.

Ms. Morrison was a close friend of Ellie Charles and it is a great privilege for African Voices to bestow its award to the beloved author.

“We are deeply honored to present the award in Ellie’s name because of the special bond they shared and the magic both women possess. Ellie and Toni have a special way of transforming people’s lives through their words and actions,” said African Voices publisher Carolyn A. Butts. “They have inspired us to believe that anything is possible through faith, action and courage.”

Ms. Morrison is one of the most influential writers in American literary history. The following is a brief summary of her long list of accomplishments.


Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emeritus in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University.

Ms. Morrison has degrees from Howard and Cornell Universities. She was appointed the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University spring 1989, a post she held until 2006. Among the universities where she has held teaching posts are Yale, Bard College and Rutgers. The New York State Board of Regents appointed her to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany in 1984. In 1988 she was the Obert C. Tanner Lecturer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Professor at Syracuse University. In 1990 she delivered the Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Massey Lectures at Harvard University. In 1994 she held the International Cordorcet Chair at the Ecole Normale Superieure and College de France.

Her eight major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise and Love have received extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved. Both novels were chosen as the main selections for the Book of the Month Club in 1977 and 1987 respectively. In 2006 Beloved was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as the best work of American fiction published in the last quarter-century. Ms. Morrison co-authored the children’s books Remember, the Who’s Got Game? series, The Book of Mean People and The Big Box. Her books of essays include Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination; the edited collection Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality; and the co-edited collection Birth of a Nation’hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O.J. Simpson Case.

Ms. Morrison’s lyrics “Honey and Rue,” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Kathleen Battle, with music by Andre Previn, premiered January 1992; “Four Songs” with music by Mr. Previn, premiered by Sylvia McNair at Carnegie Hall, November 1994; “Sweet Talk” written for Jessye Norman with music by Richard Danielpour, premiered April 1997; and “Woman.Life.Song” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Jessye Norman with music by Judith Weir, premiered April 2000; the opera “Margaret Garner” with music by Richard Danielpour, premiered in May 2005.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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