Fake it ‘Till’ You Make It: John R. Redd the “Indian Liberace” or Was He Really?

0 Posted by - June 26, 2018 - Black History, BLACK MEN, History, LATEST POSTS

Korla Pandit believed he had it all. A beautiful home, white wife, two children, and a successful career. However, Pandit had a deep dark secret which he was keeping from everyone.

Pandit was known as the pianist “Godfather of Exotica.” Also with his style and flair for clothing, he was considered the ‘Indian Liberace’ of his time. During the 1950s, he had his own show, “Korla Pandit’s Adventures in Music.” On television, he appeared wearing bedazzling jewelry, a silk jacket, and turban. His appearance caught the eye of people of all races and ages.

Unknown to everyone during Pandit’s time, the ‘Indian Liberace’ was putting on one of the greatest performances of his life. One that would not be discovered until after his death.

Legend has it, Korla was born in New Delhi, India. He was a child prodigy born to a father who was a Brahmin priest and French opera singer mother. He arrived in the United States to receive training at the University of Chicago after spending time in England.

In actuality, Redd was born a light-skinned black man from St. Louis, Missouri.  He was one of seven children born to a father who was a Baptist minister, and mother who was of Creole ancestry. However, his musical capabilities were all true, he was indeed a muscial child prodigy. At another time in Redd’s life, he played Latin tunes under the name “Juan Rolando,” which during this time he passed as being Mexican.

Korla’s career calmed in the 1960s, he began playing at supermarkets and pizza palaces, teaching piano, and speaking as a spiritualist. Redd died on October 2, 1998.

 

sources:

https://newrepublic.com/article/122797/how-black-man-missouri-transformed-indian-liberace

http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/pandit-korla-1921-1998-k-redd-john-roland-k-rolando-juan

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