How This Composer Overcame Struggle To Achieve Success

Piano keys
Shonda Buchanan
February 7, 2021

The thrilling sound of her composition filled the auditorium, and Florence Price nearly cried. For the first time, her work was being performed by a real orchestra!

This triumph was even more powerful given how much she’d sacrificed to get there.

With each crescendo, she remembered her first embarrassing sacrifice: passing for Mexican to enter a segregated music college that wouldn’t admit Black people.

But that wasn’t her last sad struggle.

When a man was lynched in her segregated town, she and her husband escaped to Chicago. Then HE became abusive! Now she had to make another difficult decision.

She filed for divorce – a shameful act at the time. She’d been composing since childhood, but was forced to struggle with low-paying jobs, and her music suffered. Only when she won a music contest with a cash prize did her life start to change. 

Despite being denied entry into the racist Arkansas State Music Teachers Association, she became a teacher and acclaimed composer, eventually becoming the first Black woman composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra.

Without institutional support, we must often focus on building and sustaining our own dreams. Then we can change our lives and impact the world!

What sacrifices have you made to follow your dreams?

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