Interview with Legendary Performers “Kittye” DeChavis and Trudy Pitts

In celebration of Women’s History Month, legendary jazz performers Katherine “Kittye” DeChavis and Trudy Pitts spoke and performed at Paley Library on March 5th, 2008. After the performance, Ms. DeChavis and Ms. Pitts joined librarian Anne Harlow for questions and conversation recorded on this Library Podcast.

In the podcast, Katherine “Kittye” DeChavis describes her earliest musical experiences. She recalls the musical environment of Philadelphia that provided many opportunities to learn, to perform, and to listen to various kinds of music. Ms. DeChavis describes her move to Montreal, and then to New York, working at the Paradise and the Apollo Theaters. She tells the story of how she unexpectedly came to record the hits “Hucklebuck” and “Be Anything but Be Mine.” Ms. DeChavis expresses heartfelt concern for young people today, and offers advice for students who are studying to be performers.

Trudy Pitts, a native Philadelphian, performs and records extensively on jazz organ. She has degrees from the Philadelphia Music Academy, Temple University, and Juilliard, and is currently on the piano faculty of the University of the Arts. In the podcast, Trudy recalls her extensive training in classical music, and how growing up in a musical family in Philadelphia influenced her music. She talks about her transition from classical music to jazz, and how she incorporates classical elements into her performances. Trudy shares her philosophies of being a wife, mother, and professional musician, and gives warmhearted guidance for aspiring young musicians.

Special thanks to Sebastian Derry, Media Services Librarian, for serving as the sound engineer for the podcast and to Dr. Diane D. Turner, Curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, for planning today’s program and reaching out and inviting these two extraordinary women to come to the library today. And thank you to Kittye DeChavis and Trudy Pitts for sharing their experiences and insights with us.

Get the audio here

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Ms. Kittye DeChavis performing at Temple University Paley Library on March 5th, 2008.

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Ms. Trudy Pitts takes a bow after her performance at Temple University’s Paley Library, March 5, 2008.

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Curator of the Blockson Collection Dr. Diane Turner, WRTI radio announcers Harrison Ridley and Bob Perkins, and University Librarian Larry Alford with Tracy Pitts and Kittye DeChavis

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Kittye DeChavis, Anne Harlow, and Trudy Pitts

–Anne Harlow

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