Celebrated American poet and author Maya Angelou passed away on May 28 in her Winston-Salem, North Carolina home. She was 86. The New York Times reports that her death was confirmed by Angelou’s literary agent, Helen Brann.
While Angelou’s most well known work may be I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her first of seven autobiographies, she was also an acclaimed performer. She was a student of modern dance under choreographer Martha Graham and had danced alongside Alvin Ailey. In 1954, Angelou performed in a European touring production of Porgy and Bess. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1973 for her performance in Jerome Kilty’s Look Away. Angelou also appeared in the 1977 television mini-series Roots.
In January of 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration ceremony of President Bill Clinton, the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian award of the U.S.