Back Albert Murray

Albert Murray

1916–2013
Albert Murray in Washington, DC, 1974. (Craig Herndon/The Washington Post)

“Albert Murray is a man whose learning did not interfere with understanding. An authority on soul from the days of old, he is right on right back to back and commands respect. He doesn’t have to look it up. He already knows. If you want to know, look him up. He is the unsquarest person I know.”
—Duke Ellington (1974)

“Albert Murray [was] an essayist, critic, and novelist who influenced the national discussion about race by challenging black separatism, insisting that the black experience was essential to American culture and inextricably tied to it. . . . In Mr. Murray’s view, the essential bond between American culture and what he called Negro culture is the shared embrace of a ‘blues aesthetic,’ which he said permeated the works of black musicians, writers, and artists. . . . ‘When the Negro musician or dancer swings the blues,’ he wrote, ‘he is fulfilling the same fundamental existential requirement that determines the mission of the poet, the priest, and the medicine man. He is making an affirmative and hence exemplary and heroic response to that which André Malraux describes as ‘la condition humaine.’ ”
—Mel Watkins, The New York Times (2013)

“This was Albert Murray’s century; we just lived in it. And as we keep on living, we will never forget what he meant to our American story or the music animating it with a soul force he taught us to hear.”
—Henry Louis Gates Jr. (2013)

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