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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Monday, September 28, 2009

Regional Emmy recognizes program featuring IU's Sylvia McNair

Sept. 28, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University faculty member and two-time Grammy Award-winner Sylvia McNair is used to winning recognition for her singing. But her latest honor is something a little different.

"Mickey's Corner," a television series hosted by her friend Michael S. "Mickey" Maurer, won a regional 2009 Emmy Award for a program that featured McNair talking about her life and performing music.

"It was a fun show to do," said McNair, soprano and senior lecturer in voice at the IU Jacobs School of Music.

The program, which aired on Indianapolis public TV station WFYI, was recognized as best interview/discussion program by the Lower Great Lakes chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences. Cited in the award presentation were Michael Husain, producer/writer/director, and Maurer, host and chairman.

It can be seen on the Web at

Maurer, an Indianapolis civic and business leader, has had a varied and successful career as an attorney and entrepreneur in cable television, film production, radio broadcasting, newspaper publishing, government service and banking. He has been a devoted supporter of Indiana University, especially the Maurer School of Law at IU Bloomington, from which he graduated in 1967. The school was renamed in recognition of a $35 million gift to the school from Maurer and his wife, Janie Maurer.

The hour-long program featured McNair singing a variety of songs, including Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and George Gershwin's "Summertime," and playing violin -- she performed Charlie Daniels' country-rock showstopper "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" -- all the while accompanied by Jacobs School alumnus Adam Burnette.

There was also conversation: McNair answering Maurer's questions about her childhood, life and career. "Of course, he wanted me to speak about my cancer journey," said McNair, a breast cancer survivor. "And I'm very happy to talk about that. I know how much comfort I've received from hearing about other people's cancer journeys, so I've decided mine is not going to be kept a secret."

Maurer and McNair recorded about 90 minutes of sound and video, so not all the material made it onto the air. McNair was disappointed that one of her comments was cut.

Recalling that McNair had won the Marian Anderson Award for vocalists in 1990, Maurer showed the iconic photograph of the African-American contralto singing to a huge crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1939.

"This was the Wednesday after Barack Obama was elected president," McNair said. "I said, 'What a marvelous day!' When he puts up a picture of Marian Anderson in the Lincoln Memorial steps, how can one not mention the election? But they cut that out of the televised version."

McNair, an IU alumna who joined the IU Jacobs School of Music faculty in 2006, met Maurer about two years ago when they were seated next to each other at a law school dinner.

Maurer sent her a copy of Water Colors, his book of underwater photographs. "He is a gifted photographer, and he deep-sea dives all over the world," she said. "I raved and raved about his book." Later, Maurer chose McNair as one of 19 women profiled in his book 19 Stars of Indiana.

On Sept. 25, McNair returned the favor, singing at a reception after the ceremony at which the IU School of Law-Bloomington officially was renamed the Michael S. Maurer School of Law.

Later that night, she performed two numbers as a guest of pianist and singer Michael Feinstein with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. She was up early the next morning to sing the National Anthem at the start of the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer fundraiser in Bloomington.