Ms. Russell has also won numerous literary awards and was the Guest of Honor at the International Conference on "Orality" for 2005, at the University of Angers, France ( 'An Interview with Sandi Russell in Angers, 26 November, 2005', in
Journal of the Short Story in English
No. 47, Autumn 2006; Presse de l'Université d'Angers, France, pp 193-202.) Among previous honorees: Grahame Green, Muriel Spark, Antonia Byatt and Grace Paley.
Ms. Russell has performed her acclaimed one-woman show,
Render Me My Song: African American Women Writers From Slavery to the Present
throughout the UK and Europe. Venues that included Ronnie Scott's, London; Kings College, London; Arthur Miller Centre at the University of East Anglia; Martin Luther King Memorial Conference, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; the Southbank Centre, London; Batley Theatre, Huddersfield; 60th Anniversary of American Studies Conference, University of Manchester; Leeds International Jazz Festival, Leeds College of Music; and the University of Macerata, Italy.
Brian Priestley, one of the UK's foremost jazz critics, says: "Render Me My Song is a stunning one-woman show with a difference. With the simplest means, Sandi Russell tells a complex and moving story, which raises consciousness without being overly didactic. The twin themes of racial subjugation and gender prejudice are given subtle and varying emphasis, during a recital that alternates literary excerpts and classic vocal repertoire. Drawing on authors such as Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston and performers Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Oscar Brown and Nina Simone, Russell lays it on the line, whether reading or singing. On a bare stage, with the most sparse props and minimal musical accompaniment, she takes her audience on a journey of discovery and self-discovery.
Ms. Russell is listed in
Who's Who Among African Americans
published by Thomson Gale; she was an
Honorary Fellow of St. Chad's College, Durham University.
VIBRANT NEW WRITING FROM THE AUTHOR OF
RENDER ME MY SONG
Sandi Russell is a direct descendant, through her mother, of the Native American tribe that befriended the first English settlers in Virginia, and the African slaves who helped create America. She grew up in Harlem during the Civil Rights era and spent her first thirty-odd years in New York City, becoming a teacher and then a superb jazz singer in Manhattan's best venues.
Moving to England, Sandi Russell continued to perform and record with other outstanding musicians, while developing a parallel career as a journalist and writer. Her much-praised book on African-American women writers, Render Me My Song, appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. Sandi created a powerful show of the same name, performing it throughout Europe and the UK. ELLA!, her one-woman show about the life and music of Ella Fitzgerald, also unites Sandi's exceptional gifts as a singer and writer.
Color brings together one person's quest for identity with the inner lives of a whole community. As individual characters tell their stories, dreams are shared, secrets are revealed and a complex picture emerges of intimate relationships, racial tensions and passionate aspirations. Rooted in Tidewater County, Virginia, this is original fiction in the poetic tradition of William Faulkner and Toni Morrison. Through a rich texture of voices and sensations, it offers unique insights into the history of the New World and the meaning of the 'American Dream'.
Jazz Singer, Writer & Educator