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.
Bio:
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-René 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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