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James McKissic Photo

James McKissic

Mr. James McKissic was born March 16, 1940 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. McKissic has a B. S. Degree in Music Education from A. M. & N College, 1962, Pine Bluff Arkansas (now University of Arkansas Pine Bluff). He is Professor of Chamber Music, University of California Berkeley, California.

He has performed concerts in USA, Switzerland, France, Kenya, England, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Maroc, Holland, Bangkok, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. Mr. McKissic made his New York debut in Carnegie Hall in February, 1986, and has played in Carnegie Hall eight times. A film of his life, “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall”, Sandy Northrop Productions, has been made and his next concert performance will be in Carnegie Hall, April 9, 1995.

A gifted concert pianist and modest individual, McKissic credits much of his success to life’s principles instilled throughout his childhood by his mother, the late Mrs. Rosa Belle Daniels McKissic. The following is an excerpt of a letter written to Mrs. McKissic and placed in the 1993-94 Carnegie Hall season brochure:

“I am sharing with all the angels here in Carnegie Hall today some of the wisdom you instilled in me when I was a little boy growing up and learning to play the piano. Had it not been for that wisdom, I would not have performed in Carnegie Hall seven times; and today makes eight, thanks to you Mama.

I remember when I began playing the piano at the age of three, you would stand behind me and show me how to play. You would say to me, “baby don’t bang the keys, love the keys.” Often you would demonstrate what you were telling me in order to make it clear. You would stand behind me speaking softly and sweetly, breathing in such a way, I knew something was happening to me…. Your breathing instilled in me that spirit which is what makes life and music and everything that goes from one heart to the next heart You cultivated from the beginning the “Touch” that so many people say I have. When I was playing the piano in the bar at La Mamounia in Morocco, a man said to me “did you not play piano in Biarritz, France, three years ago”” I said, “yes I did” He then said, “I do not remember you, but I remember the touch.” I am really grateful to God for the gift, and to have had a mother who believed so much that her son had been given a gift from God that she wanted to do the best she could to cultivate it”