Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Interview with author and professional speaker Craig von Buseck

Today's blog guest is author and professional speaker, Craig von Buseck. He's talking with us about his new narrative biography about African-American composer Harry T. Burleigh, Nobody Knows: The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music.

I'll be chatting with Craig live on Sunday, March 16 from 7-9PM EST at Writer's Chatroom. More details below.

Dr. Craig von Buseck is a published author, a contributing writer for CBN.com and Cindy Jacobs’ Reformation Prayer Network, and the editor of ChurchWatch.co. He holds a Doctor of Ministry and an MA in Religious Journalism from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Craig’s new narrative biography, Nobody Knows: The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music is the story of the great African-American composer, Harry T. Burleigh.

Craig is also the author of Praying the News: Your Prayers Are More Powerful Than You Know, co-written with 700 Club news anchor Wendy Griffith. Craig is also the author of NetCasters: Using the Internet to Make Fishers of Men and Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice. He has just completed his latest project, Yes, I Can, which he co-wrote with a quadriplegic medical doctor.

Craig has extensive ministry and speaking experience. He travels often to speak at conferences, professional events and writer events. For more than ten years he served on the Executive Board of the Internet Evangelism Network (IEN).

Along with his work at CBN, he has written for Charisma Magazine, the Israeli Bureau of Tourism, Nicky Cruz Ministries, the Christian Coalition, Regent University and several other Christian magazines. He has taught as an adjunct professor in the Regent University schools of Divinity, Communication, Business, Government, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Craig is a graduate of CLASS (Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers Services), and serves as member of the CLASS Seminar faculty. He has been a featured speaker at the Jerry Jenkins "Writing for the Soul" Christian Writers Conference; the Indy Christian Writers Conference; the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference; the Write-to-Publish Conference at Wheaton College; the Colorado Christian Writers Conference; the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference; the Florida Christian Writers Conference; the CLASS Christian Writers Conference; and the Heart of America Christian Writers Conference.

Craig and his wife, Robin, live in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Welcome, Craig. Please tell us about your current release.
When he was a boy, Harry T. Burleigh listened to his grandfather Hamilton sing the spirituals he had learned as a slave. Burleigh’s early interest in music grew into a career that included breaking through racial barriers to perform for presidents and kings. Nobody Knows: The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music by Craig von Buseck tells the story of this extraordinary man who helped form the basis of a uniquely American music.

While attending The National Conservatory of Music in New York City on a scholarship, Burleigh met the legendary composer Antonin Dvorak while mopping the hallway floors one night. Fascinated by the songs Burleigh sang, Dvorak wove the melodies into his Symphony No. 9 in E minor, also known as the New World Symphony. From there, Burleigh went on to become to the first black soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church, receiving a glowing endorsement from J.P. Morgan and other high-profile church members. Burleigh’s musical career spanned decades and included accolades as a soloist and skilled arranger of Negro spirituals.

This inspiring true story takes readers back in time to Southern plantations and Northern boom towns, and shows how the seemingly insignificant pieces of Burleigh’s life came together to preserve the rich history of the spirituals for generations to come.

What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up in the same city where Harry T. Burleigh was born and raised. I had heard the Burleigh name, but I didn’t know who he was until a friend invited me to watch his one man musical play on the life of this great musician. I was blown away by his accomplishments, so I decided to write his life story as a narrative biography for my Master’s Thesis at Regent University. As I began to do research on his life I came to realize that Harry T. Burleigh was, in fact, one of the most important and influential figures in the history of American music. One musicologist, Dominique-RenĂ© de Lerma, told National Public Radio that “…in Harry T. Burleigh you have the birth of American music.”

As I dug deeper into the life of this great musician I learned that Burleigh:

  • Influenced Antonin Dvorak in the writing of the famous ‘New World Symphony’;
  • Was handpicked by J.P. Morgan to be the baritone soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan;
  • Was personal friends with Booker T. Washington and would often serve as the ‘opening act’ at his speeches;
  • Sang for some of the great leaders of the day, including Teddy Roosevelt and King Edward of England;
  • Saved some of the spirituals from obscurity – and published so many artistic arrangements he became known as the ‘Godfather of the Negro Spirituals’ by the Los Angeles Times.
  • Wrote numerous popular songs that were performed by the great singers of the day – including the melody that became the marching song of the Italian Army in World War I;
  • And much more…

PDF Excerpt (25 pages)
What exciting story are you working on next?
Harry S. Truman and the Founding of the Modern Nation of Israel

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing songs when I was very young, so I’ve considered myself a writer since I was a child. But I seriously started pursuing writing in my mid-20s.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time writer and I do my best work early in the morning. I like to write in the morning and early afternoon. Then I spend my later afternoon doing business or marketing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I do my best writing first thing in the morning – or when I’m out enjoying nature.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At first I wanted to be a medical doctor because of the movie “Dr. Doolittle.” Then I wanted to be a politician – and eventually president of the United States. I am a doctor today – a doctor of ministry.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My father is a portrait painter and fine artist. He gave me some advice that I will pass on to your readers: “Find out what God wants you to do – what is your passion – then do that thing with all of your heart. Soon you will become known as the person who does that thing.”

Thanks, Craig!

Readers, if you’d like to get to know Craig a little better and have a chance to ask him questions directly, he’ll be in a live chat at The Writer’s Chatroom, Sunday, March 16 from 7-9PM EST. No password or registration is needed, so feel free to stop in!

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