Maud Cuney Hare was born in Galveston, Texas in 1874 to Adeline Dowdy Cuney and Norris Wright Cuney. Norris was a prominent business man and leader in state and national politics, and on top of that both him and her mother Adeline were skilled musicians. Her parents brought her and her brother up with a strong pride in their racial identity and emphasized the importance of both the arts and activism.
After growing up in Texas she moved to Boston to peruse music at the New England Conservatory and later English Literature at Harvard University’s Lowell Institute. During her time at the New England Conservatory for Music she encounter intense racial prejudice from her fellow students, to the point where the university suggested she move off campus for her own comfort and safety. She refused to allow herself to be bullied off of campus and remained there despite the hate she received.
After finishing her education she went back to Texas and taught at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths. She also taught music at State Normal and Industrial College in Texas. She then moved back to Boston to pursue her career as a pianist and lecturer. There she also helped to establish the Musical Art Studio in Boston, which helped to enliven the arts within the black community.
On top of her performing and research she was also a prominent writer of both nonfiction and theatrical works. She compiled a poetry book entitled The Message of the Trees in 1918, and wrote a play entitled Antar of Araby in 1929. She is also well known for writing her fathers biography Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People in 1913, as well as the incredibly popular book Negro Musicians and Their Music.
Maud was a proud black woman and was a proponent for equal rights specifically within the arts. Due to her light skin color she was often able to pass as “Spanish-American” and while this led to an easier life for her, she did not appreciate this handout she had been given. She disliked this rejection of her Black identity and required that she was always referred to correctly.
Her activism also reached into her compositional and musicological work. She was one of the first musicologists to intensely study Creole Music and bring it into the public eye.
– Megan Maloney
Cuney-Hare, Maud. Norris Wright Cuney: a Tribune of the Black People. G.K. Hall, 1995.
Maude Cuney Hare. africandiasporamusicproject.org/maudecuney_hare.
Roses, Lorraine Elena, and Ruth Elizabeth. Randolph. Harlem Renaissance and beyond: Literary Biographies of 100 Black Women Writers, 1900-1945. Harvard University Press, 1997.
Maud Cuney Hare: Six Creole Folk-Songs
Composer(s): Maud Cuney Hare
Song(s): “Aurore Pradère”, “Gardé Piti Mulet Là”, “Belle Layotte”, “Quand mo-té jeun’”, “Aine, dé, trois, Caroline”, Dialogue d’Amour,Free via IMSLP