On the Scene: Tolstoy, The Harvard Bookstore and Nina Sankovitch

The event was a discussion and reading by Nina Sankovitch of her memoir Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading. Early, I took a seat near the front and waited, watching as young, well-dressed summer school students consumed an entire row with their giggles and a few elderly people with hearing aids hobbled to seats in the very front row. Oh, the typical Harvard reading.

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Interview: Alice Randall, Novelist and Songwriter

Photo: Bob Delevante

Alice Randall is the author of The Wind Done Gone; Pushkin and the Queen of Spades; and Rebel Yell. Born in Detroit she grew up in Washington, D.C.. As a Harvard undergraduate majoring in English she studied with Julia Child as well as Harry Levin, Alan Heimert, and Nathan Huggins. After graduation Randall headed south to Music City where she founded Midsummer Music with the idea she would create a new way to fund novel writing and a community of powerful storytellers . On her way to The Wind Done Gone she became the first black woman in history to write a number one country song; wrote a video of the year; worked on multiple Johnny Cash videos and wrote and produced the pilot for a primetime drama about ex-wives of country stars that aired on CBS. She has written with or published some of the greatest songwriters of the era including Steve Earle, Matraca Berg, Bobby Braddock, and Mark Sanders. Two novels later, the award winning songwriter with over twenty recorded songs to her credit and frequent contributor to Elle magazine, is Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University. She teaches courses on Country Lyric in American Culture, Creative Writing, and Soul Food as text and in text. Randall lives near the University with her husband, a ninth generation Nashvillian who practices green law. Her daughter is a graduate of Harvard College. After twenty-one years hard at it Randall has come to the conclusion motherhood is the most creative calling of all.

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Interview: Forrest O'Connor, Musician and Entrepreneur

Forrest O’Connor is the co-founder and CEO of Concert Window, a company that delivers live concert webcasts from top-notch music venues around the United States. Previously, he served as president of the Harvard College American Music Association, for which he produced concerts and workshops featuring Rosanne Cash, Bela Fleck, Alison Brown, Roy Hargrove, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, and Chris Thile. A mandolinist and composer, Forrest has performed on Public Radio International’s The World and WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn as well as in venues throughout the Boston area, and his chamber piece, Homage to the Old Mill, was premiered by Harvard University’s Brattle Street Chamber Players in October 2009. In May 2010, Forrest graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in sociomusicology from Harvard, where he received a Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for his thesis on F-5 mandolin design.

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Interview: Ben Norton, Painter

Ben Norton is a figurative painter currently residing in Dayton, Ohio. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Ben came to Ohio to study at the University of Dayton. In May of 2009, he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, concentrating in painting and minoring in religious studies.

Upon graduating from UD, Ben began sharing a studio and working with Dayton artist Mike Elsass, and is currently heavily involved with the operations of Mike's Color of Energy Gallery in the Oregon Arts District of Dayton. He now has his own studio space in the Front Street Warehouse complex, where he creates his own work along with the occasional commission.

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