- Leontyne Price: Opera Superstar, Childrens Press, Chicago, 1984.
- Alex Haley: I Have A Dream, Abdo and Daughters, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1996.
by Rushaunda Nash (SHS)
Sylvia Williams, the author of Leontyne Price Opera Superstar, was born in West Point, Mississippi, on July 12, 1946. She grew up on a farm west of West Point in Siloam Community (Williams Interview). Her father, Pete Barkemeyer , was a farmer and carpenter; and her mother, Arbelle Barkemeyer, was a teacher. William says, ” I inherited my love of reading from my mother” (Williams Interview).
Williams was in the band four years and says, ” I love music.” She graduated from West Point High School in 1964. She then attended William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, majoring in Elementary Education. She graduated in 1968 with her B.A. Degree. She then went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, majoring in Educational Media and Instructional Technology. She graduated in 1972 with her Master of Education Degree. From 1968-1971 Williams taught on the elementary level at Poplarville Schools, in Poplarville, Mississippi, Forest County Schools, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Laurel City Schools, in Laurel, Mississippi (Williams Interview).
Williams was a classroom teacher (elementary) for three years; then she became a children’s librarian. William says, ” Being a children’s librarian is my true calling, as I love children and children books.” She has been a librarian for twenty- five years. William also taught children in church for many years and currently is Children’s Bible Drill Leader. William says, ” Church has always been an important part of my life” (Williams Interview).
William has two children and two grandchildren. She says, ” I am now passing my love of reading on to my grandchildren.” William’s hobbies include: cooking, sewing, reading, and writing. She collects books autographed by the authors, ” especially Mississippi authors,” she says.
Her first book about Leontyne Price was published in 1985, and it is about the opera singer, Leontyne Price. William had a second book published in 1996 calledAlex Haley: I Have A Dream. She is currently working on some southern folk tales. She has completed one and sent it to a publisher and is working on two more. William says, “As a librarian, it was quite a thrill to see my name on a book!”
A Review of Leontyne Price: Opera Superstar
by Rushaunda Nash (SHS)
Leontyne Price Opera Superstar by Sylvia Williams is a biography of Leontyne Price, a very famous black opera singer from Laurel, Mississippi. The book was published in 1984 by Children’s Press of Chicago. It is part of a series of biographies of famous people. The book was written for young readers seven to twelve years of age.
The book tells how a black girl from Mississippi became a very famous opera singer. The book leads the reader through Price’s childhood to facts about her career. It includes that ” Price was the first black American to appear on television, singing the title role of Leonora in Trovature,” Williams book also describes Price’s role as Cleopatra in an opera to celebrate the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York. The book details numerous performances by Leontyne Price and the many awards she has received. The book, Leontyne Price Opera Superstar, is a great factual book for young readers to read and learn more about a famous Mississippi musician.
by Rushaunda Nash (SHS)
1. Place of birth, birth date, parents’ names, high school graduated from, college attended?
I was born July 12, 1946 in West Point, Mississippi, my parents are Pete and Arbelle Barkemeyer. I graduated from West Point High School and attended William Carey College, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
2. Who is your favorite author?
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Although I have many.
3. What author do you think has influenced you the most?
No particular one, my love of books and I loved writing letters when I was young.
4. Why did you decide to write a biography on Leontyne Price?
I worked in the schools she had attended and because the children there didn’t know her because she left before they were born, and I thought she was an excellent role model.
5. When did you become interested in writing? Was their something in particular that got you interested in writing?
I loved letter writing when I was young and had many pencils. I enjoyed writing in Senior English and my teacher helped me allot. Being a librarian and loving to read also contributed to my being a writer.
6. What kind of student were you in high school?
I did well in English, not too well in math and science. I wish I had taken my school work more seriously.
7. How long did it take to write the biography? Where did you get the idea?
Approximately two years. I got the idea during black history month when my teachers were always asking me to find information on her.
8. Are you working on a new book right now? Do you have a title? What is it about?
I presented a proposal on the Mississippi River, but I have not heard if I get to write the book. I submitted a manuscript retelling the traditional folktale ” The Fisherman and his Wife ” in a Southern version with a catfish in the Mississippi River.
9. Have you received any awards?
Not on my writing, but I have received many invitations to speak to students and educators about writing.
10. Do you any advice for future writers?
Practice, practice, practice your writing skills. Learn the market you want to write for and what to do with what you write. And don’t give up.
11. Do you have any advice for students today?
Read, read, read, anything and everything. This will help you in more ways than you can ever imagine.
12. How has Mississippi or living in Mississippi influenced your writing?
I love Mississippi and the South. My first book was about a Mississippian; my second was about a Southerner. All of my writing has been in one of those categories. There are so many people or things in Mississippi or the South to write about that I can’t imagine writing about anything else. I still have many flocculates that I have not yet had time to write about.
- Williams, Sylvia. Interview. November 22, 1998.