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Learn why Maya Angelou signed with Porgy and Bess


Dr. Maya Angelou started her career in singing and dancing and eventually signed a contract with Porgy and Bess in order to further her career. Learn more about her time with the company in this video.

Funding for Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is provided by IDP Foundation, Ford Foundation/Just Films, National Endowment for the Arts, National Black Programming Consortium, Anne Ulnick, Michael Metelits, and Loida and Leslie Lewis.


Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.


Well Porgy and Bess came and performed in San Francisco, and someone told me they were looking for a dancer.

So I thought, hmmm... and they would pay much more and I would get a chance to travel around the United States and maybe get a chance to go to Europe.

I auditioned for them, and they accepted me.

I sang the role Ruby but the truth is I couldn't really sing.

I mean, I could sing, but I wasn't a trained singer.

I really was a dancer, and at least once every two or three weeks, one of the singers would say to me, 'Maya, I'm sorry to tell you, but you flatted that G,' or 'you flatted that A.' I didn't even know I was singing in the alphabet.

I just sang the role.


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