Richard Shindell's album recalls images of BaltimoreIn his...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

September 20, 1992|By Stephanie Shapiro

Richard Shindell's album recalls images of Baltimore

In his debut album, Richard Shindell, folk singer and one-time Baltimorean, has taken poetic license with his title song.

In "Sparrows Point," he sings not of shipyards, like the kind he used to see while running to Fort McHenry.

The ballad takes place before and during World War II, when "a guy comes to Baltimore to look for work," says Mr. Shindell, now a New York City resident. "He goes to the shipyards, because he figures in time of war, shipyards are a good place to find work. Instead, he ends up drafted in the Navy. . . . I just chose the name Sparrows Point because it seems like a beautiful image."

Mr. Shindell, 32, lived in Baltimore during his high school years. He remembers performing with a friend in the Towson High School talent show. They lost -- "to somebody with a good voice."

But Mr. Shindell's voice has improved, as have his musical fortunes. "Sparrows Point," available on the Shanachie record label, is receiving wide play on East Coast radio stations partial to folk music.

Mr. Shindell sees himself as one of the numerous contemporary folk musicians who -- in the tradition of artists such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell -- "want to put some meaningful, literate lyrics to melodies."

After several performances in New England, Mr. Shindell will sing at the Birchmere in Arlington, Va., on Saturday. When Dr. Sidney Burnett graduated from dental school, he figured he would join the Maryland State Dental Association. He was wrong.

The year was 1949, and the dental association rejected him because he is an African-American, he says. But things are different now. Dr. Burnett has just been appointed the first African-American president of the dental association, which has about 2,500 members.

"It shows how society has changed," Dr. Burnett says. "We don't have revolution in this country, but we do have evolution."

Dr. Burnett, who was born in North Carolina, moved to Baltimore when he was a young child. There had been medical doctors in his family, and he was being groomed to become one also, he says.

But a dentist and family friend who had a practice in Washington persuaded Dr. Burnett to go into dentistry.

Dr. Burnett graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and what was then Morgan State College. He wanted to attend the University of Maryland dental school but said he wasn't accepted due to segregation policies.

"I had to go out of state to attend school," he says. Dr. Burnett was accepted at two schools: Meharry Medical College in Tennessee and Howard University in Washington. He opted to remain close to home and went to Howard, where he graduated in 1949.

The 67-year-old dentist is semi-retired now, although he still sees some patients at his office on North Caroline Street.

Dr. Burnett says he feels a real sense of accomplishment for rising to the top of the organization that once rejected him.

"It's a real privilege and a honor to head up the dental association."

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

Sandra Crockett

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