Even though you might not be familiar with Linda Twine’s name, you definitely know her work. If you’ve heard the music from Jelly’s Last Jam, Caroline Or Change, The Color Purple, or Big River (to name a few), then you’ve heard her in action. Twine is a music conductor and the musical director for the works previously named. She’s also conducted for Leslie Uggams, The Persuasions, Ben Vereen, Shirley Horne, and Linda Hopkins, among others. Twine wrote Sisters of Freedom, which was premiered by the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble. She also served as music supervisor for the Off-Broadway production Thunder Knocking on the Door.
Jeanine Tesori, who won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Original Score for Fun Home said of Twine, “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.”
In a separate interview, Tesori, who is the most prolific and honored female Broadway composer in history, 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 also notably composed “Changed My Name,” a cantata inspired by slave women Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and written for two actresses, four soloists, and a chorus. Her work can be seen and heard in the books and CDs of the Silver Burdett Publishing company, which are used by many public schools in the United States, ensuring that her legacy will endure.
Below you’ll find Jeanine Tesori’s Tony acceptance speech.