Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 30, 2004
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McBride mixes entertainment, inspiration

James McBride (left) stands with (from second to left) Robin First, development director at School of Social Administration; SSA Dean Larry D. Icard; and James Kelch, SSA professor emeritus at the first Beverly Gail Barnes Kelch Memorial Lecture.

The crowd that came to Tomlinson Theater last week was hoping to hear some jazz and perhaps some personal observations from James McBride, the acclaimed author of The Color of Water. But they got something more: some inspiration.

In an hourlong discussion before the music, McBride talked about aspects of his life that inspired him to write his novel and the risks he took in leaving his career as a journalist to become a musician and a writer.

“I realized that life really happens when you’re deciding what to do,” McBride told the audience of more than 300 alumni, faculty, students and others.

McBride’s visit, co-sponsored by the School of Social Administration and the College of Education, was the first event for the Beverly Gail Barnes Kelch Memorial Lecture Series Fund. The Kelch lecture fund, at the School of Social Administration, will support Temple’s hosting of a lecture each year focused specifically on social and political issues.

McBride followed his speech by introducing his accompanists, who included Sarah-Jane Cion (keyboard), Calvin Jones (bass), Keith Robertson (guitar), Leon Jordan (drums) and Mamiko Taira (vocals). Drawing from each other, the group showed a range of talent that held the audience rapt.

After playing for approximately half an hour, McBride urged the audience to vote and asked them to pray for the soldiers fighting in Iraq. He then ended the night by introducing his mother — and School of Social Administration graduate — Ruth McBride, whom he described as the main inspiration for The Color of Water.

After filing out, many in the audience chose to contribute to Kelch lecture fund. The contributions will make it possible for events such as these to occur in the future.

Contributions to the Kelch lecture fund can be sent to Robin First at the Temple University School of Social Administration, 550 Ritter Annex, 1301 Cecil B. Moore Ave., Philadelphia PA 19122. Please specify that the money is for the Beverly Kelch Memorial Lecture Fund. For more information, e-mail robin.first@temple.edu.

- By Kathleen O’Brien