The family of poet and author Maya Angelou are holding a private memorial service Saturday at Wake Forest University where Angelou served as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies from 1982 until her death, the News & Record reports.
Angelou’s close friend and mentee Oprah Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight that she would be speaking at the memorial service for Angelou who died May 28 in her Winston-Salem, N.C., home at the age of 86.
First lady Michelle Obama is also slated to speak at the event. Although Angelou supported Hillary Clinton in her 2008 run for presidency, she would come to fully embrace Barack Obama’s campaign. She wrote in an essay for Essence magazine that it was Oprah’s counsel that brought her around, and touted Michelle Obama’s “effortless grace.”
President Barack Obama praised Angelou as a “brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman” and noted that his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, was named for Angelou.
Lee Ann Womack dropped everything when she found out that the family wanted her there to sing Angelou’s favorite song, “I Hope You Dance,“ Rolling Stone reports.
“I was honored, moved and thrilled about everything she said to me about the song and my singing,” Womack remembers. “But all these years later, the song remained? That says so much about the power of music and poetry: the way the human condition can be filtered down in a song. Keeping it real and honest, but also maintaining the love in your heart and compassion. … That makes for an excellent life, and that’s what I think Maya Angelou found in the song.”
Angelou’s family told the school that there would be additional events in other cities across the country. That information will be released later.