Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gordon Heath African Amercian - conversation with Alyssa Heath

I posted a few months ago about one of the Paris tours we took called, "Walking the Spirit Tours". In that post I spoke about Gordon Heath, an African American expatriate,actor, musician, director and producer. About a month ago I received an email from Gordon Heath's 18 year old cousin, Alyssa Heath. I thought it would be interesting to ask her a few questions about her cousin. 

Q - where did you grow up?

Alyssa - I grew up in Long Island, New York.

Q - how many siblings do you have?

Alyssa - I have one older brother.

Q - how are you related to Gordon Heath?

Alyssa - Gordon and my grandfather were first cousins, making Gordon my 3rd cousin.

Q - You mentioned that you recently found out about Gordon. Did you know of him but not know about his contribution or did you not know of him at all? Tell us when and how you found out?

Alyssa - I always knew that we had a musician in our family but I didn't know he was really famous. I then asked my father about him, and he told me that Gordon had a cafe in Paris and that my dad met him a few times when he was younger.

Q - I understand that you took a trip to Paris a few years ago? When was the trip and how long did you stay? What was the purpose of the trip? What did you enjoy most about Paris? What surprised you?

Alyssa - Yes, I took a trip to Paris in 2008. I stayed for 10 days and it was a school trip. We explored the tradition and nostalgia of Paris. I enjoyed that Paris was full of old buildings and famous streets. What surprised me was how the US dollar amounted to much less when I exchanged it for Euros.

Q - Did you know the important contribution that Gordon made to Paris before you went on your trip? Did you visit any of the historic Parisian landmarks which honor his memory?

Alyssa - I had no idea of how much of an impact Gordon had on Paris. I wish I would have known then because I would have had loved to go to his cafe. Soon I want to go back to Paris to visit and experience his cafe.

Q - Now that you understand more about the part he played here and abroad, what makes you the most proud?

Alyssa - It makes me proud that Gordon as an African-American man followed his dream. The fact that his venue is still standing and still in business long after his passing is mind blowing. It makes me very proud to be a Heath.

Q - Do you have any family stories about him that you would like to share? 

Alyssa - I personally did not know him. But my father does remember him being a very kind person and always offering to help when he could. He said Gordon was always smiling, but had a cool and quiet way about him.

Q - Do you or anyone in your family have any theatrical/musical skills? What are your future plans for school?

Alyssa - No, no one other than Gordon in my family possesses musical skills. I am currently in college and I plan to get my double major in business and law.

Q - How did you happen to find my blog post about Gordon (which blog was it on)? Why did you decide to contact me?

Alyssa - One day I randomly decided to do some research on Gordon, then I came across your site. This site popped up on google, and out of all the other sites that popped up, this one was the most gravitating. You had so much on Gordon and his legacy, which impressed me. I also wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the questionnaire for your amazing site ! I really appreciate it. Thanks : ) !

Thank You Alyssa!

Gordon Heath Movie 1961
My Baby is Black (Original title in France was Les Laches Vivent d'espoir)
Movie synopsis - A couple finds that their love is not accepted by society in the land of liberty, fraternity, and equality in this drama. Françoise (Françoise Giret) is a college student who is friendly with a group of idealistic bohemians living together in a Paris flat. An artist living with the beats introduces Françoise to Daniel (Gordon Heath), a medical student she spotted at a student cafeteria. Françoise is quite taken with Daniel, who is bright, friendly, compassionate, and handsome. However, Daniel is also black, and while Françoise, who is white, is not concerned with his race, she discovers not everyone around her is so open-minded. After several months together, Françoise discovers she's pregnant; her parents are shocked and demand that she have an abortion, and Daniel isn't certain what they should do, though his brave actions after a young black boy is abused by the police help her make up her mind. More thoughtful and less exploitive than its American release title would lead one to expect My Baby Is Black (released in France as Les Laches Vivent d'Espoir) was written and directed by Claude Bernard-Aubert. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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