Levine Presents

The Duke and the Busboy Poet:
Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and the DC Harlem Renaissance

Poet Langston Hughes and composer/bandleader Duke Ellington interpreted the American experience through sounds and words. Join us for an evening of music, poetry, and to explore the lives of these two great artists, including their roots in Washington, DC, their role in the Harlem Renaissance, and their continued relevance in today’s troubled world.

Featuring: Charles Williams, vocals and spoken word; Gary Prince, guitar


The Negro Speaks of Rivers with In a Sentimental Mood, Langston Hughes (1901-1967), Duke Ellington (1899 – 1974)

Wade in the Water, Negro Spiritual

Take the “A” Train, Billy Strayhorn (1915 – 1967)

Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues, Duke Ellington (1899 – 1974)

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, Mercer Ellington (1919-1996)

Bound No’th Blues, Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

Three Dream Poems, Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
     I. Dreams
     II. Dream Keeper
     III. I Dream a World

Day Dream, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), lyrics: John La Touche (1914-1956)

Three Short Poems, Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
     I. Motto
     II. Acceptance
     III. Evil

Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), Bob Russell (1914-1970)

Come Sunday, Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Evenin’ Air Blues, Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

Let America Be America Again with The Single Petal of a Rose, Langston Hughes (1901-1967), Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Solitude, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), lyrics; Eddie De Lange (1904-1949) and Irving Mills (1894-1985)

What is Music?, Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), Bob Russell (1914-1970)

About the Artists

Charles Williams studied voice and opera on a full scholarship at the Hochschule Für Musik in Berlin, Germany and won international acclaim following his opera debut at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Charles has performed in theaters and opera houses and on radio and television in Munich, Zurich and Vienna. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess under the baton of Maestro James Levine. Williams has conducted vocal technique and vocal health workshops in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. At Levine Music, he is a senior faculty member and teaches voice. Charles has won international acclaim for his portrayal of Mr. Johnson in the Philip Glass and Robert Wilson opera Einstein on the Beach which concluded a two-year world tour in 2015. Charles is involved in a number of events throughout the country honoring Langston Hughes as a great African-American poet, playwright, and social activist.

Gary Prince is a guitarist and educator based in Washington, DC. He has been on faculty at Levine Music since 2008, serving as the Jazz Program Chair from 2013-2020, and is the Upper School Instrumental Music Teacher at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. Gary also developed the curriculum for Levine’s Jazz Theory Online course, which he continues to teach. Gary has held additional teaching positions at The Sheridan School, The Siena School, and The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in addition to being a former BloomBars Artist in Residence. Gary takes pride in having a wide range as a performer and can be heard playing everything from contemporary jazz to improvised music with the band Cagematch, Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with the Modern Music Project, contradances with the group Black Oranges, duos with legendary vocalist Charles Williams, and straight-ahead jazz, rock, and all points in between. Gary holds multiple degrees from the University of Michigan including an MM in Music Education, a BFA in Jazz and Contemplative Studies, and a BA in Psychology. While at the University of Michigan, he was a member of the Creative Arts Orchestra under the direction of Ed Sarath and Mark Kirschenmann.