Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Maya Angelou Dies
GRAMMY winner Maya Angelou — a renowned poet, novelist, educator, performer, and civil rights activist — died May 28 in Winston-Salem, N.C. A cause of death was not disclosed. She was 86. Hailed as a global Renaissance woman, from 1954–1955 Angelou toured Europe with a production of the George Gershwin opera "Porgy And Bess," and in 1957 released her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1969 Angelou published her internationally acclaimed autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. In 1972 she wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 Angelou read her poem "On The Pulse Of The Morning" at the inauguration ceremony for former President Bill Clinton. The performance garnered Angelou her first GRAMMY for Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Album for 1993. She won two additional awards in the category for Phenomenal Woman (1995) and A Song Flung Up To Heaven (2002). Angelou received more than 30 honorary degrees and numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. "Fearless and uninhibited, she was a trailblazer who broke color and gender barriers through her passionate and articulate prose and poetry, ultimately becoming 'the people's poet,'" said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Her eloquence and honesty led to her well-earned success, and she fully appreciated the sound and music of language and the spoken word."