Former PSO keyboardist Patricia Prattis Jennings to read from essays

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Patricia Prattis Jennings, who served as principal keyboardist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for more than 40 years, will give two local readings from her new collection of essays, "In One Era and Out the Other."

Ms. Jennings broke the color barrier in 1956 when she became the first African-American woman to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra during a concert at the Syria Mosque. She went on to play the piano, harpsichord, organ and celeste with the PSO before retiring in 2006.

Ms. Jennings may have writing in her blood. Her late father, P.L. Prattis, was the longtime editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, once the largest circulating newspaper for African-American readers. Her essays are reflections on how the Internet affects the American family, fashion, culture, politics, race and entertainment.

Ms. Jennings, of Rosslyn Farms, reads at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the reception hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie, 300 Beechwood Ave. Afterward, she will answer questions and sign copies of her book.

Ms. Jennings will donate $1 from the sale of each book to the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. The reading and book signing is free and open to the public. For more information, call 412-276-3456 or visit

A reception follows the reading. Jazz will be played by musicians Phil Salvato and Haywood Vincent.

Ms. Jennings will do a second reading from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at Mendelson Gallery, 5874 Ellsworth Ave., in Shadyside. That reading is also free and open to the public.

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