April is both Jazz Appreciation Month and National Poetry Month.

Perfect for The Nightside with Andy O’ which features poetry and jazz every Sunday night at 9 pm on 89.3 KUVO JAZZ.

This week we observe three birthdays and a passing.

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson: April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

Poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. The black woman’s poet laureate, she was a woman of letters writing the iconic “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”  As well as fourteen collections of poetry, two cookbooks, seven children’s books and seven plays as well as being an actress.

She recorded many of her poems with jazz artists, notably among them she recorded “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

with Branford Marsalis.

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 -July 17, 1959) nicknamed “Lady Day “ by her close friend and music partner Lester Young. One of the leading influences on everyone who sang jazz. Her unique vocal delivery and phrasing is completely unique.

Active from 1930-1959. Her version of the haunting “Strange Fruit” has been called the first protest song as well as the most important song of the 20th century.

Frederick Dewayne Hubbard (April 7, 1938 – December 29, 2008) was an American jazz trumpeter and composer.

He played bebop, hard bop, and post-bop styles from the early 1960s onwards. His unmistakable and influential tone contributed to new perspectives for modern jazz and bebop. An important leader and a sought-after sideman as well as a great composer.

John Sinclair (October 2, 1941 – April 2, 2024) was an American poet, writer, broadcaster, and political activist from Flint, Michigan. Sinclair’s defining style is jazz poetry, and he released most of his works in audio formats. Most of his pieces include musical accompaniment, usually by a varying group of collaborators dubbed Blues Scholars.

As an emerging young poet in the mid-1960s, Sinclair took on the role of manager for the Detroit rock band MC5.

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.

Our eyes, briefly,

see with a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,


gnaws on kind words


promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and our reality,

bound to them,

takes leave of us.

Our souls, dependent upon their nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance,

fall away.

Tune in to The Nightside with Andy O’ on Sunday, April 7 from 9 p.m. to midnight on KUVO JAZZ!

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