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The James Baldwin Conference in Saint-Paul de Vence

Nina Kennedy, creative director of INFEMNITY Productions, has been invited to participate as a presenter for the International James Baldwin Conference, celebrating the 50th anniversary of James Baldwin's arrival in the South of France, June 18-21, 2020. Kennedy will moderate a panel on "Baldwin and The Internalized Closet" with panelists J.P. Howard, Dr. Jordanna Matlon, and composer Renée Baker.

Dr. Cornel West will be the Closing Keynote speaker.

INFEMNITY Productions will be on hand to film the event.

Nina Kennedy is a world-renowned concert pianist, orchestral conductor, and award-winning filmmaker. She gave her first complete piano recital at nine years old, and appeared as piano soloist with the Nashville Symphony playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at age 13. She holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Leonard Bernstein. Kurt Masur acted as her conducting mentor during his tenure as music director with the New York Philharmonic and L’Orchestre National de France. For 12 years she lived and performed in Europe, residing in Vienna, Cologne, and Paris. She produced and directed the documentary film titled Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey, which was selected and screened at international film festivals worldwide. Her father Matthew Kennedy was a pianist and director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers for nearly 30 years. Kennedy is also a writer and spoken-word performer. She is the author of Practicing for Love: A Memoir.

Renée Baker is a Cultural Creative at Composers of Intuitive Disruption, the founder and CEO of BrynIndie Film Society, and Artistic Director/Music Director of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project. She is the composer of a new opera titled The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble, a miltimedia musical work based on texts by James Baldwin, including his poem “Conundrum” from Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems.

Juliet P. Howard (J.P. Howard) is a poet, lawyer, Cave Canem fellow and native New Yorker. She has been selected as a Lambda Literary Foundation 2011 Emerging LGBT Voices Fellow. JP was a finalist in the Astraea Lesbian Writer’s Fund 2009-2010 poetry category and recipient of a Soul Mountain Retreat writing residency in 2010. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, TORCH, Queer Convention: A Chapbook of Fierce, Cave Canem, The Portable Lower East Side (Queer City), Promethean Literary Journal and Poetry in Performance. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York, as well as a BA from Barnard College and a JD from Brooklyn Law School. She is the recent co-founder of Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and blog, a forum for women writers of all levels to come together in a supportive and creative space.

Dr. Jordanna Matlon is an urban sociologist interested in questions of race and belonging in Africa and the African diaspora, and the ways “blackness” as a signifier – and in its intersection with gender, class, and national identity – illuminates our understanding of popular culture, postcoloniality and neoliberalism in the contemporary city. Her current research examines the livelihoods and lifestyles of men on the urban periphery. Her book manuscript, is tentatively titled Story of a Minor Term: Racial Capitalism and Imaginaries of Black Masculinity from Colonialism to Crisis. In it she investigates the relationship between masculinity, work, and globalization in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Dr. Matlon's work appears in American Sociological Review, Antipode, Poetics, Ethnography, Contexts, and the Black Scholar, among other publications.

Nina Kennedy has also been invited to perform in the Opening Plenary Session for the conference. To celebrate James Baldwin's love of gospel music, she will be collaborating with former Fisk Jubilee Singers Koko Onwuzuruigbo and Kim Fleming.

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