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Greater Newark Community

Noted New Jersey Writer Presents Third Book
July 3, 2007
Media only, please contact:
Heidi Cramer at (973) 733-7837

West Orange resident and retired editor of the Star-Ledger’s "Newark This Week" section, Barbara J. Kukla will be at The Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street, Wednesday, July 11 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss and sign her eagerly awaited new book on Dolores Collins Benjamin, the founder of the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club, one of America’s oldest and most well-respected male singing groups.

Sounds of Music: The Dolores Collins Benjamin Story is a tribute to the 94-year-old Benjamin, a resident of Ashbrook Nursing Home in Scotch Plains, who founded the glee club in 1939 in her apartment at Douglass-Harrison Homes in Newark.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1913, Benjamin was a musical prodigy, who studied at Virginia State College under the influence of Luther P. Jackson, a leading figure in the early Civil Rights movement, and Undine Smith Moore, who was later nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in music composition for a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Her late husband, jazz bassist Joe Benjamin, spent most of his career with Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, and Dave Brubeck.

Benjamin attended Virginia State College, Dana College in Newark, and Seton Hall University. She was a teacher of special needs children for many years.

Kukla is the author of two previous books, the widely acclaimed and well-respected, Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50, and Defying the Odds: Triumphant Black Women of Newark. In this recent work, as in her two other publications, she takes the reader through the diverse, exciting, and at times troubling history of Newark’s black community.

The Dolores Benjamin Story details the establishment and growth of the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club, which is still performing and going strong as it approaches its 70th birthday. It also traces Mrs. Benjamin’s interactions with some very fascinating friends and relatives, one of whom served in the Civil War and another who was the top student in Howard University’s Law School, Class of 1905.

The program will take place in Centennial Hall on The Library’s second floor. The book signing is open to the public without charge. For information, please call Anthony Clark, 973-424-1831.

 

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