August Wilson, April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005
Ashé."I first heard Bessie Smith as a 20-year-old living in a rooming House in Pittsburgh in 1965. And I would go across the street to the St. Vincent de Paul Store and, indiscriminately, buy these 78 records for a nickel apiece... And one day I had a typewritten yellow label, a record by someone named Bessie Smith, you know. And I put that on the turntable, and it actually changed my life. I was stunned by this record. I had never heard anything like it. And as a consequence of that, I began to look at the people who were living in the rooming house. I began to look at them differently; I began to connect them to a history. And then I realized that I was part of that. And so I claimed that record there as mine. And from that moment on, you know, I began to, in my writing, you know, to embrace and explore this African presence in America."