James McBride Biography
James McBride is an award-winning writer and composer. His critically
acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's
Tribute to His White Mother, explores the author's struggle to understand
his biracial identity and the experience of his white, Jewish mother, who moved
to Harlem, married a black man, and raised 12 children. The
Color of Water won the 1997 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Literary
Excellence, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year, and spent more than two years
on the bestseller list. Chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 25
books of 1996 to remember, The Color of Water has sold more than 1.3
million copies in the United States alone and is now required reading at
numerous colleges and high schools across the country. It has also been
published in 16 languages and in more than 20 countries.
After the success of
The Color of Water, McBride turned to fiction, albeit inspired by his
family's history. He recalled the war stories of
his uncle and cousin, who served in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division, and
began researching World War II in Italy -- particularly the clashes between
Italian Partisans and the German army. Miracle at St Anna was published in 2002. His next novel, Song Yet Sung, was published in 2008.
McBride is a former staff writer for The Washington Post, People Magazine
and The Boston Globe. His work has also appeared in Essence, Rolling
Stone and The New York Times. Aside from his literary honors, McBride
is the recipient of several awards for his work as a composer in musical
theater, including the 1996 American Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award, the
1996 ASCAP Richard Rodgers Horizons Award, and the American Music Festival's
1993 Stephen Sondheim Award. He has written the score for several musicals,
including the highly acclaimed, award-winning show "Bobos."
McBride, an accomplished saxophonist who has toured with renowned jazz singers
and musicians, has written songs (music and lyrics) for Anita Baker, Grover Washington,
Jr., Gary Burton, Silver Burdett Textbooks, and for the PBS television character
James is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
This biography was last updated on 08/15/2013.
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