LG074 Interview: Gwen Lightner (LG074Goreau_Side1)
Side 1 and 2: Interview with Gwen Lightner on 1972-09-21. Abstract for Lightner: [00:00–30:34] On LG074Goreau_Side1, in this September 1972 interview from Los Angeles, Gwen Lightner talks in detail about Mahalia Jackson's trip to Liberia in November 1970 for the celebration of President Tubman's 75th birthday. Lightner discusses the hair and clothing styles of African women which she describes as "chic." She recalls attending a United Nations function in NYC where all the African attendees dressed in western style clothing and Americans looked out of place in African tribal attire – 2:23. Lightner reveals that Jackson was invited to Liberia by Steven Tolbert, Vice President of Liberia. She and Jackson were each presented with beautiful African dresses before their concert which they changed into during the intermission to the delight of the attendees – 4:51. Tolbert arranged to have Jackson perform as a surprise for Tubman who greatly admired her. After hearing her sing, Tubman expressed that she had "thrilled his soul" – 7:35. Lightner reveals that Jackson was given an award which was the highest honor bestowed in Liberia – 8:36. Jackson and Lightner were also showered with gifts including coins and jewelry – 10:11. Lightner describes Jackson's fascination with African dancing – 13:09. She also mentions watching a state funeral procession from the balcony where they were staying – 15:50. Lightner discusses the process of having a dress made while you stood and waited and recalls Jackson having about 12 dresses made while in Liberia – 22:21. The interview then shifts to a discussion about pianist James Lee who played on Jackson's first album. Lightner reveals that Jackson always looked out for him throughout his life and at one point had bought him a house and furniture – 25:26. [00:00-05:09] LG074Goreau_Side2 begins with Lightner and Goreau discussing Jackson's teeth and Lightner recalling an incident when Jackson lost a tooth during a performance. They spend the rest of the interview discussing photographs for use in Goreau's book.