Tavis Smiley ‘Gustavo Dudamel: Conducting a Life’ Interview with Kam Williams

Tavis Talks about His Latest Special Report

Due to nationwide budget cuts, music education programs are being eliminated from school curricula nationwide at a rapid pace. However, many concerned individuals, including Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, are adamant about ensuring that kids continue to be exposed to the enriching world of music.

The fourth installment of Tavis Smiley Reports, “Gustavo Dudamel: Conducting a Life,” profiles the young conductor and asks the question: What price will the country pay for abandoning music education for our children? Here,

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Tavis Smiley: I appreciate the acknowledgement, Patricia, and I look forward to reading the article.

Kams Williams: Reverend Florine Thompson asks: Who is your primary source of motivation? And what role does spirituality play in your life and who most shaped and informed your spirituality?

Tavis Smiley: Jesus is the primary source of my motivation. Spirituality and my abiding faith are more important than anything else in my life. The three things that have sustained me are what I call the three f’s, in this order, faith, family and friends. My mother, Joyce Smiley, is the person most responsible for motivating me. She’s a minister herself.

Kams Williams: Reverend Thompson’s first follow-up is: How would you define your purpose in life as it pertains to communication and media?

Tavis Smiley: As I’ve told you before, Kam, I think information is power, and I see my platform as one which gives me the opportunity to challenge people to reexamine the assumptions they hold, and to help them expand their inventory of ideas. Right along with that, I love being able to introduce Americans to each other. I’m blessed being able to cross-pollinate, culturally.

Kams Williams: Batala-Ra McFarlane asks: What grade would you give President Obama after his first two years in office?

Tavis Smiley: Obviously, he’s enjoyed some major political victories the last couple weeks. But the things that concern me are yet to be addressed, including the issue of poverty and all the hell that people, especially black people, are catching in this economy. I’m reluctant to give grades, but I’m concerned that the White House still has not focused enough on the issue of economic opportunities for everyday people. That’s the banner that I’m still flying.

Kams Williams: Well, good luck with the special, Tavis, and I look forward to reviewing your book in the spring.

Tavis Smiley: Thanks for the time, as always, Kam

Tavis Smiley’s primetime special “Gustavo Dudamel: Conducting a Life” premieres Wednesday, December 29 at 8pm ET/PT and 7pm CT on PBS. (Check Local Listings) For more information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/reports/episode-four-details.html