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James C. McBride Born in 1957, James McBride is the son of the late Andrew McBride, and Ruth McBride Jordan. His mother was born in Poland, the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi, who became a grocer. Her maiden name was Rachel Shilsky. The family left Poland for the American South and Rachel left the South for New York City where she met and married Andrew McBride, an African-American Baptist minister. Together they formed an all-black Baptist Church and Rachel gave birth to eight children, of which James was the youngest. James never met his real father who died before he was born. His mother remarried and gave birth to four more children and James was brought up with these "new" brothers and sisters" in Brooklyn and Queens. Throughout most of his childhood James never suspected that his mother was white, let alone Jewish, assuming that she must be a "light-skinned" black.
He graduated from Oberlin College and earned his Master's degree in journalism at Columbia University. He worked as a staff writer for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Wilmington News Journal (Delaware). He has also written for Rolling Stone, The Philadelphia Inquirer, US, and Essence.
His memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother originated as an essay aboout his own mother that he wrote on Mother's Day in 1981 for The Boston Globe. Response to the newspaper story was so positive, he was persuaded to work on a book. The hardcover edition was published in 1996 by Riverhead Books. The trade paper edition, published in February, 1998, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 2 years.
Although his memoir THE COLOR OF WATER achieved critical acclaim and a wide readership and has been translated into ten languages, his first love is music. He plays the saxaphone and has both composed and produced music for his own and other bands. He recently helped write Quincy Jones autobiography. He now has his own 14 member band
He has written the score for several musicals, including the award winning musical "Bobos" which is appearing in workshop form at The Kennedy Center in July, 2000. as weel as songs (music and lyrics) for Anita Baker, Grover Washington, Jr., Gary Burton, Silver Burdett Textbooks and for the PBS television character "Barney."
He is the recepient of the 1997 Ainisfield Wolf Book Award for Literary Excellence and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Whitman College. He is also the recipient of several awards for his work as a composer in musical theater, including the 1996 American Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award, the 1996 ASCAP Richard Rodgers Horizons Award, and the American Music Festival's 1993 Stephen Sondheim Award.
He is currently writing a new novel, set in Italy, for Riverhead Books. He is also writing a foreward for a book that has been called "The Photographic Event Of Our Time." Tentatively titled "M.I.L.K - Moments of Intimacy, Laughter, and Friendship" It is the richest ever photo competition with a prize pool of $750,000, with about 20,000 photographers from 164 countries submitting some 80,000 images for consideration. Of those 80,000 images, only 100 will be selected - those that capture what the editors call "the essence of humanity." The book is being published for worldwide release by the London based publisher, Hodder Headline Inc. and was inspired by Edward Steichen's eic photographic exhibition "The Family of Man" sponsored by the Museum Of Modern Art in the 50's. He is also working on a new CD of all original James McBride songs tentatively entitled "Stories." for CuddySounds Records.
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