Talent Is Like Electricity

Maya Angelou? Claudia Tate? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: An insightful simile likens the creative talent displayed by an individual while dancing, composing, teaching, or singing to electricity. This figure of speech has been attributed to Renaissance woman Maya Angelou. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1983 Claudia Tate edited and released a collection of interviews titled “Black Women Writers At Work”. Tate asked Maya Angelou about her manifold resourcefulness 1

C.T.: You are a writer, poet, director, composer, lyricist, dancer, singer, journalist, teacher and lecturer. Can you say what the source of such creative diversity is?

ANGELOU: I don’t do the dancing anymore. The rest I try. I believe talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it. Electricity makes no judgment. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it. Electricity will do all that. It makes no judgment. I think talent is like that. I believe every person is born with talent.

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Notes:

  1. 1985 (1983 Copyright), Black Women Writers At Work, Edited by Claudia Tate, Chapter: Maya Angelou, Start Page 1, Quote Page 7, Oldcastle Books, England. (Verified with scans)