Do you ever feel like there’s just too much on your plate? When you add up the time and energy it takes to be a parent, to advance a career, and even to have an impact on your community, it can be hard to imagine adding anything else into your schedule. Well while those feelings are absolutely valid, there are some people who manage to do all of those things, and more – even write music! Hey there, I’m Loki Karuna, and for this edition of NoteWorthy I’d like to celebrate a woman who seemed to do it all – the late great Zenobia Powell Perry.

Born in 1908, Zenobia Powell Perry had a great start in both music and activism, meeting with and performing for some of the most influential Black people of her day, including Booker T. Washington, and the composers, William Levi Dawson and Robert Nathaniel Dett! These early interactions led her to not only writing music, but writing music that she knew the communities she existed within could appreciate, including this beautifully songlike clarinet sonata from 1963.

In addition to surviving and thriving as a composer, Zenobia Powell Perry raised two children as a single mother, taught at several HBCUs, served as the primary caretaker for her mother, and played a pivotal role within the NAACP, fighting for the rights of her fellow Black Americans. It’s hard to imagine someone who could manage so much, but she did, earning her a spot amongst history’s most noteworthy.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.