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A Grace Lee Mims

A Grace Lee Mims

A Grace Lee Mims had been listening to WCLV for years when she decided to contact its president, Robert Conrad. She told Robert WCLV needed a program spotlighting contributions that blacks have made to classical music. After their meeting, Conrad said, “You must promise me to do it for 6 months.” Mims kept her promise---and much more. She went on to host “The Black Arts” for over 43 years.

Consider Mims’ accomplishments, in addition to “The Black Arts”. The native of Snow Hill, Alabama sang in the Cleveland Orchestra under Robert Shaw and served as soprano soloist at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights for two decades.

Before her radio days, Mims was a librarian at the Cleveland Public Library and Glenville High School, where she started a festival of black history and culture. Among her festival guests included Muhammad Ali. Mims also taught voice to students from the Cleveland School of the Arts at the Music Settlement.

Music had been a constant in Mims’ life. Her mother was a piano prodigy and her father, an electrical engineer who played cornet and was one of the first bandmasters at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Mims sang for several years with three of her 6 siblings in a jazz-folk ensemble called Descendents of Mike and Phoebe, named after slaves seven generations back in their family. Her  brother, Bill, was a composer and bass player and also the father of film director Spike Lee.

“The arts are so important to a person’s rounded life,” she said. “A world without the arts, especially music, would be horrible.”  And so is a world without you, Ms Mims—RIP. 

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