‹‹ Colorado Matters

Pueblo-raised pianist and composer honors the Black experience in America

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28min 17sec
Courtesy of the artist
Composer and pianist Mary D. Watkins has co-created an opera about Emmett Till.

At age 82, Mary D. Watkins still makes music. She has collaborated on a new opera about Emmett Till, the 14 year old who was kidnapped, tortured, and lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Watkins was around Till's age, and living in Pueblo, when the murder occured. Composing the opera, she says, "was almost like I could send my blessing to his mother, Mamie Till, and to him." Watkins also tells Senior Host Ryan Warner about her earliest musical memories, including improvising at church.