She tells the story of her grandfather’s love for a man, and nothing more

TESTIMONY – “My grandfather Dave told me he was sure he was gay when he moved into his college freshman room and met a boy with the ‘most beautiful eyes’ he had ever seen”. This is how Sama’an Ashrawi begins his tweet, which was shared more than 280,000 times in writing this Wednesday, June 7th.

After the death of his grandfather, this California director decided to tell his youthful love story to a man, John Kander, who has since become a legendary Broadway composer.

Together with lyricist Fred Ebb, John Kander specifically composed the titles “New York, New York” for Martin Scorsese’s eponymous 1977 film, a piece that became a standard in the United States, as well as two world -famous musicals, “Chicago” and “Cabaret”.

So a student that Sama’an Ashrawi’s grandfather, David Fisher, fell in love with. “After my grandfather died, I learned from my mother who this child was,” he wrote. Shocked to discover that it was John Kander, he then realized that the story didn’t end there.

“I always thought it was so cool, that grandpa and this guy John Kander were in love, but during the pandemic, I noticed something on the library shelf,” he explained on Twitter.

“It’s a library I hand over a dozen times a day, maybe more. Why didn’t I ever notice this 45 rpm 7 ″ vinyl record coming out of one of the shelves?” he asked. “I took it. It was a custom press and wrote it in pencil: ‘Our Boy’, the year ‘1951’ and the composer’s name: ‘John Kander’.”

Sama’an Ashrawi immediately rushed to ask his mother about this disc, who replied that it was a “song that John wrote for Grandpa”. She decided to listen to him. “Very black piano solos, listen to the theater. I need to know more, ”he said.

Fortunately for him, John Kander was still alive – he was 94 at the time – when he tried to contact him. After talking to one of his relatives, Sama’an Ashrawi received an email directly from the composer.

A musical in a work

“He told me that the record we had was not just a song, but a one-act musical called‘ Our Boy ’that he wrote when he was 22 years old,” he said. Not only that, but he wanted my grandfather to take the lead in the role.

The musical – who can no longer see the light of day – tells the story of a boxer struggling with existing feelings of defeat. John Kander sent photos of David Fisher’s grandson to his grandfather that he had never seen before, while he was rehearsing for this role.

The end of the story is just as touching: Sama’an Ashrawi and his family then meet John Kander at a lunch in New York, to remember his grandfather.

“We are honest with each other … not about not lying, but being honest with who we are and who we are. He was a great gift for me ”, John Kander testified.

See also The HuffPost: She brought back life to her grandmother’s clothes, which remained in a suitcase for 70 years.

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