Melba Moore Receives Presidential Honor, Shares Keys To Making It In Theater, Music, and Film

Melba Moore has solidified herself as a cultural icon. For several decades, Moore has made history through her work in theater, music, and film.

On Aug. 26, Moore made her way to Morehouse College where she received the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her commitment to improvement within urban communities.

Both awards pay homage to Moore’s career which gained worldwide acclaim in 1971 when she took home the Tony Award for her role in “PURLIE.” In music, she earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1971.

Moore recently released the new album “Imagine” continues to perform around the world.

When were you notified that you would be a recipient of the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Awards?

A few months ago. I received a call and I was told that I was going to be honored and what the categories were. It’s always good to be honored, but I’m still getting used to all of this.

Why is it special to receive this honor in Atlanta and Morehouse College?
Morehouse is a representation of what African Americans have in   terms of being at the forefront of education, commerce, spirituality, and culture. How it pushes forward African Americans and ensures that we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

You were awarded a Tony Award in 1970. What was it like to make history on such a grand stage? 

It’s very special to have been awarded a Tony Award. And that’s primarily because of what African Americans have endured in this country. We weren’t given anything. We have had to fight for everything. There are so many that came before me that opened the doors because they tried to keep us out for so long. It’s a major honor personally, but also it opened the doors for other Black people to be on Broadway and on TV. It’s something special.

What advice do you have for young artists looking to establish themselves on the stage, in music, and film?

Each medium has its own fingerprints. For instance, if you’re going to do an audio recording, you’re focusing more on voice inflections. But if you’re on the stage, everything is told through the body as well as the voice. I’m thinking in terms of musicals because that’s been my greatest experience. If it’s a film, if the camera is on you, you have to consider the angles. Everything shot with a camera can be magnified, so you have to be aware of facial expressions and movements. It’s all forms of art with very different approaches.

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