By Margaret Hicks
Chances are you might not know the name Linda K. Twine, but you probably know her work. Twine is a musician, educator, music conductor, composer, and musical director. Her works includes the 2007 Broadway hit, The Color Purple, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Caroline Or Change. She also conducted for The Persuasions, a 60’s a cappella group, Tony winning actress Linda Hopkins, actress and singer Leslie Uggams, and actor, singer, dancer, Ben Vereen.
She wrote Changed My Name, a cantata inspired by Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. It was written for two actresses, four soloists, and a chorus. Her work used by many public schools in the United States. As well as Broadway productions, she has composed and arranged theatrical works produced off-Broadway, regionally and internationally.
Jeanine Tesori, “…the most prolific and honored female theatrical composer in history,” said of Twine, in a 2015 interview, “For girls, you have to see it to be it. My grandfather was a composer in Italy, and he came to this country to try to fulfill that dream. I didn’t realize a career in music was available to women until I saw Linda Twine conducting Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.” Tesori also said “I remember seeing Linda Twine conduct when I was nineteen. She is this beautiful African-American woman who was in complete command with all of the men on stage looking at her every move.”
Twine developed an interest in music at an early age. By the time she was five, she could play, by ear, The Little White Cloud that Cried and Shake a Hand, Shake a Hand
According to Twine’s cousin, Gloria Twine Chisum, “When Linda was just big enough to climb on a piano bench and play with both hands tunes that she had heard, our family knew that she had extraordinary talent.”
In a short portrait documentary directed by Nate Cohen, Twine said she received her undergraduate degree in piano, in Okla., and asked herself “What does a black person do with a degree in piano?” Since she did not know what she wanted to do, she went to graduate school and under the advice of her mother, who was an elementary school teacher, she took some education courses. This was in Manhattan. Said that was the start of her teaching.
Twine, is from Muskogee, Okla. Her grandfather, William H. Twine, was a pioneer lawyer who made a homestead claim near Chandler, Oklahoma Territory, in the 1891 Sax and Fox Run.
In 2007 Twine was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Twine is 72.