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Margaret Allison Bonds began her musical training with her mother, Estella Bonds, and continued composition studies with Florence Price and William Dawson. She attended Northwestern University and the Juilliard School of Music. She was well-known as a pianist and teacher in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and collaborated with Langston Hughes on songs and musical theater. Her Credo for baritone, chorus and orchestra was performed by the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra under Zubin Mehta shortly after her death in 1972.