Drum still beats in a musical tribute to MLK

caines | 1/17/2013, 4:30 a.m.

Eartha Kitt featured on classic recording

Back in 1987, vinyl LPs were on the way out and CDs were still a novelty. At that technological crossroad, The Black Academy of Arts & Letters [TBAAL], the nations largest multi-discipline Black cultural arts institution, released a live recording of the legendary entertainer Eartha Kitt performing with The Black Academy Choir in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The album, My Way: Musical Tribute To Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped raise funds for the non-profit organizations various arts and youth programs. The roots of the project were born at Claras Kitchen, a once legendary soul food establishment in Dallas.TBAAL founder Curtis King had met Kitt when she was in concert at the citys Venetian Room. I told her that I admired her and she gave me her private contact information and we stayed in touch, he recalls. At some point I invited her to headline our annual King Day concert and she stayed over a couple of days to just relax. We were sitting in Claras Kitchen and she talked about her career and being blacklisted. She gave me a lot of business advice and both she and her daughter were very encouraging to me over the years. Other vocalists featured include: contralto John Archie Sanders, Sharon Ephran, Rev. Armond W. Brown, Pat Kessee, Sterlena Taylor, Barbara Sims and organist Jimmy Wyatt. Kitt purred and sang her way through four of the songs including, America The Beautiful and Dions `60s classic Abraham, Martin and John. She delivered a smoky rendition of Billie Hollidays God Bless the Child and created a spirited, nearly seven-minute rendition of The drums still beat, Kitt said in her spoken dialogue. They beat for Martin. They beat for Mahatma. They must beat for you. The legacy lives on. Miami Times staff report