Pianist, composer and writer Philippa Schuyler, circa 1949. She was born in 1931 to black author and journalist George Schuyler and his wife, Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a white woman from a wealthy ranching and banking family in Texas who disowned her upon her marriage to Schuyler.
A child prodigy, Ms. Schuyler was playing piano recitals by age four and went on to compose a symphony, Manhattan Nocturne, in 1945 at age thirteen. She debuted at the New York Philharmonic with it in April of that year.
Weary of the constant racism that stalled her career in the United States, she toured South America and Europe throughout the 1950s. By the 1960s, she gave up her career and followed in her father’s footsteps as both a journalist and an ultra-conservative. She was working for the Manchester Union Leader of New Hampshire as a correspondent to Vietnam when she died in a helicopter crash near Da Nang in 1967. She was 35.
In 2004, Halle Berry purchased the rights to Philippa Schuyler’s biography, Compositions in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler by Kathryn Talalay. Alicia Keys was announced as the star and that would be great. But if it doesn’t work out, I still think that Jurnee Smollett would be fantastic in this role.