The Mid-Shore has benefited greatly over the centuries in having folks from the Western Shore not only adopt this rural region as their own but actively engage in the life of the community. From helping local churches to mentoring children, these “Come-Here’s” have played critical roles in the development of some of the Eastern Shore’s most important institutions.
But the story of Cambridge’s Linda Harris is a special one indeed.
Raised in DC, and someone who would grow up to be very successful in property management, Linda’s real vocation, her first passion, was actually music. While she was a consummate professional and delighted in raising a family, she never let go of the absolute love of her life: singing jazz and playing classical piano.
And at 60 years old, she began performing in places like the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Mr. Henry’s in DC, the Stateside in New Orleans, and abroad in Paris and Goteborg. In fact, she had a full schedule set for 2020 with gigs in Tokyo and Africa planned, but then COVID hit.
Like many performing artists, Linda was staring at an empty calendar when she remembered that her father gave her a book about Harriet Tubman and her life and perseverance. That memory led to gathering a small group of women who all agreed to walk the Underground Railroad trail from Cambridge to Freedom House in Philadelphia last September.
That seven-day trip tested Linda and her middle-aged body far more than she had predicted. On day three, she retreated to a washroom and wondered if she could actually make it all the way. And it was at that moment, as she was looking exhausted into the bathroom mirror, that Harriet Tubman’s image seemed to appear to push Linda to get back on the road.
Linda had decided before the walk that any money she raised would go to the Harriet Tubman Museum and Mural in Cambridge. Still, it was after the hike that she made the bold decision to move to Cambridge full-time and devote her time and energy to help the small education center.
Since then, she has brought together her love of music and added it to museum’s programming in the form of a concert series, entitled “Jazz at the Mural,” which is designed to raise funds but also use her substantial network to bring some of the best names in jazz to town to perform in front of the now famous Tubman mural in downtown Cambridge Saturdays from 6 to 8 pm every other week.
The Spy sat down with her yesterday to discuss the importance of keeping Harriet Tubman’s legacy alive and the role of music in celebrating her lasting impact on American history.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about The Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center please go here.