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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, February 17

Betty Jackson King

Synopsis

Today’s date marks the birthday of the American composer, choral conductor, and educator Betty Jackson King. She was born in Chicago in 1928, where she earned her M.A. in composition at the Roosevelt University. Her Master’s thesis was an opera, entitled “Saul of Tarsus,” whose libretto was written by her father, the Reverend Frederick D. Jackson.

Betty Jackson King is perhaps best known for her sacred and choral works, especially her arrangements of spirituals, and, according to her family, her musical career reflected her deep religious faith. “Over my head, I hear music in the air, so there must be a God somewhere,” was her oft-stated creed.

But King also wrote secular works, including a ballet for children, chamber works, art songs, and solo pieces for piano and organ. She was an active teacher and choral conductor in her native Chicago before moving to Wildwood, New Jersey, where she taught, conducted, and composed for the rest of her life.

A few years before Betty Jackson King’s death in 1994, soprano Kathleen Battle performed and recorded "Ride-Up in The Chariot,” one of Jackson’s spiritual arrangements, at a gala televised Carnegie Hall concert of spirituals conducted by James Levine.

Music Played in Today's Program

Betty Jackson King (1928-1994) Spring Intermezzo, fr Four Seasonal Sketches Helen Walker-King, vn; Gregory Walker, p. Leonard 339

Additional Information

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