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Ellen Roots

Official Author's Website

The Lushan Suite: 
A Love Song from the W
est to the East
(A true story)



Lushan, one of the most majestic and mystical mountains in China, holds great significance for the Roots family and their descendants.  It has encompassed the lives and loves of the family since before 1900, and inspired the rebuilding of ties between China and the United States in 1972 following the Cultural Revolution.  It was on this mountain that a humble American family commenced their missionary work that continued through six decades of China's fascinating and tumultuous history; forged strong ties and friendships with religious and governmental leaders, including Zhou Enlai and Chiang Kaishek, through wartime and beyond; lived through revolutions, floods, famine, and invasions; and Frances Blakeslee Roots came into the world. 


Frances, the eldest daughter, was destined to live a most extraordinary life.  This is the story of the Roots family in China, how the family's work led to a lifelong connection with the Chinese people, and how richly intertwined Frances' life was with her father's, Bishop Logan Roots, who was responsible for a diocese of 50 million people in Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui (Anhwei) Provinces. 


Ultimately, this is the beautiful story of how China and her people captured Frances' heart and lived through every part of her life and her music – how she became a musical ambassador through thousands of concerts for world leaders and masses of music-lovers.  The Lushan Suite – written in her birthplace for the 1972 concert for her friend, Premier Zhou Enlai – incorporated the chanting from her childhood of the stone workers who built the Thousand Steps to the top of the mountain (link to YouTube recording of the Lushan Suite).  Its world premiere in 1972 was internationally acclaimed and paved the way for further diplomacy.


As eloquently written by Steve Harnsberger, President of the Kuling American School Association, "Frances connected the song of the ancient stone workers' chant with her celebration of everyman's love of the Sacred Mountain.  It is powerful that the Lushan Suite became the vehicle for the reconnecting of East and West in 1972."  It is even more moving that it brings us together now to celebrate a shared history and a desire for reconnection. 

About the Book



As a child, I grew up knowing our American family had a very different history than most.  There were the stories of how my father and his siblings were born and raised in China, how my Great-grandfather, Logan Roots, went to China in 1896 to bring a unifying message and became a Bishop, met his future wife there, and raised two subsequent generations in the Chinese culture. 

There were snippets, stories, letters, journals, and copious photographs shared by my Great-Aunt Frances (Frannie) Roots Hadden, the Bishop's daughter, of the family's friendships with leaders of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party decades ago before the Cultural Revolution.  There were uprisings, wars, floods, famine, and the Japanese invasion, when the family delivered supplies to the Chinese against the invaders.  And there was Frannie, as she was known by everyone, who believed that music can change the world; it can unify us in our humanity and shed political ideologies. 

As a lifelong concert pianist, she wrote The Lushan Suite in 1972 to commemorate her acclaimed return to China.  Long after college, I was yet to discover how deeply the history reached...


After living through six decades of China's tumultuous history and shifting political winds, the Roots family had to flee China in 1951, when the Communist regime took over.  Under house arrest, soldiers tried to convince my grandfather (a doctor) to stay in China, but allow his family to return to the U.S.  He refused. Premier Zhou Enlai personally ordered their release, and the Premier and the family remained friends through the ensuing decades, until finally the the Joint Communiqué of the United States and the People's Republic of China was signed in 1972, heralding a unique invitation by the Premier to Frannie to return to China and play for leadership.  This led to her composing The Lushan Suite and their fascinating reunion unfolded.

In December 2020, the Kuling American School Association (KASA) President, Steve Harnsberger, reached out to our family after discovering our history, especially The Lushan Suite.  He has been working with the Lushan Government to record family stories to memorialize the history, so that they would not be lost.


In tandem with Ms. Chen Hui, who worked for over ten years at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Lushan Geopark team under three Party Secretaries, Steve inquired whether I would be willing to write a book about this very unique story and to hold a commemorative concert of The Lushan Suite in China.


With the family materials in hand and more time available because of the pandemic, I agreed.  I'm forever thankful for the venture, without which I would likely never have discovered all these details of our family's rich history.

Xie Xie

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related to

1934_01_30, Frances Roots' concert, Victoria Hall, Hankow China, LO RES.jpg

1904_11_17.  Rev. L.H. Roots Made Bishop, Arkansas Democrat, Little Rock, AR.  Page 1    Page 2

1924_01_12, The Case of Bishop Roots, by Rev James Thayer Addison, The Churchman, NY

Cover  Article

1928_02_28.  Relief Committee Report on Work on Hankow Dyke, Hankow Herald, China.  Page 1    Page 2

1938_04_19.  Bishop Roots' Farewell Message to China Friends, Hankow Herald, China.  Page 1    Page 2

1974_03_09&10.  Hadden Pianists Give Psychotherapy of Joy.  Daily Times Call, Longmont, CO. + 1974_01_29.  Bach to Rock, Easy Transition Well Done.   Ft. Myers News-Press, FL.

1981_02_26.  A Tale of Two Pianists, Santa Fe Reporter, NM.  Page 1    Page 2

1991.  Couple Believes Music Can Change Lives, Menominee Herald-Leader, MI.  Page 1    Page 2

1992, Adventures in Music-Making (Richard and Frances Roots Hadden) dust jacket, LO

2000_06_02.  Frances Roots Hadden's obituary, Mackinac Island Town Crier, MI.  Page 1    Page 2


Lushan is a shared experience, a place of belonging to the world – where West and East met and congregated. The Roots lived there for over five decades, but all the foreigners left China in 1951...the Lushan Suite exemplifies our shared history as the single, most powerful, stand-out tale...It represents everything that all of us...understand...about why we are so connected to Lushan, the Mountain, and to the Chinese people, across four generations.  It is also because one born-in-China soul, one Lushan-ren woman, was able to go home before she died.  Frannie.

Through her family's story, Ellen Roots reveals a whirlwind episode of U.S.-China history that touches the highest echelons of music, religion, politics, war, friendship, and love. With meticulous research and masterful writing, The Lushan Suite is a uniquely fascinating chronicle that will captivate history lovers of all stripes.

Ellen has long had a passion for connecting the here and now with the past.  A scientist by day, she's observant and inclined to transforming things to written form...and then more, she's a self-made genealogist and lover of familial history, a believer in the value of stories told and the way they cast our lives as part of larger and still-unfolding narratives.  With tenderness and reverence, she herein brings Lushan to us - its complexity, simplicity, stillness, and vibrance - and the musical spirit of a world past and present.







Where is Lushan, China? 

In East Central China in the Jiangxi Province, just south of Jiujiang.

Who was Frances Roots Hadden?

Born in 1910, Frannie was a world-renowned classical pianist, born and raised in China.  She attended the Kuling American School in Lushan, China, then later finished high school in the U.S.  She graduated from Mt. Holyoke in 1932 and immediately began her concert career in China.  She married her later piano duo partner, Richard Hadden in 1947 and spent the remainder of her years playing for heads of state and the public all across the globe.  She lived 1/3 of her life in China, 1/3 in the U.S., and 1/3 in other countries.  She passed away in 2000.

Is Frances Roots Haddens' music still available for purchase?

Yes! The Haddens' 
Adventures in Music-making CD is available from Cambria Music here.  

For copies of The Lushan Suite, this website cannot accept payments, please

Who was Bishop Logan Roots?

Born in 1870 in Little Rock, Bishop Logan Roots was the son of a farmer and slave abolitionist, and later the father of Frances Roots.  He was taken with the ideas of being an Episcopal missionary and helping China, which, at the time, was challenged with numerous socioeconomic hardships.  He sailed for China in 1896, met his future wife there, and was consecrated as the Bishop of the Hankow diocese in 1904.  He sought unification of the different Christian denominations, and befriended many leaders in China regardless of their path.  He retired in 1938 and left China, seeking to continue his religious path through Moral Re-Armament.  He died in 1945 at the age of 75, mourned and beloved by many around the world.  

Where can I find out more about the Kuling American School?

Founded in 1916 by Eliza McCook Roots and Bishop Logan Roots, the Kuling American School taught missionary children ages 5-18 in Kuling, China. In 1947, the KAS was taken over by the Chefoo School, but finally closed permanently in 1951.   

There is an organization today managed by descendants of the Kuling American School called the Kuling American School Association (KASA).  They strive to maintain open communication with the Chinese government and to share their unique history.

Where can I find out more about the Hartford McCook family? 

The McCook homestead at 396 Main Street is the oldest home remaining in Hartford, built in 1782.  It belonged to John James McCook, Eliza's father.  The estate, now called the Butler-McCook Homestead, was given to the Connecticut Landmarks Society, who maintains it as it was lived in by the McCook family and is open for touring.

About the Author


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My Chinese name is Wu Meilu (吴美庐), which means Beautiful Lushan Roots.  I was born in Niger, West Africa, to a doctor who eradicated smallpox with the CDC program for 2.5 years – the first white baby born in the country.  My father moved our whole family there for the duration and it was his responsibility with his team to inoculate everyone within the

country, which was deemed a success in 1970.  We returned to the United States when I was two.  My father finished his medical residency and we relocated to Santa Fe, where I grew up.  As the youngest of three siblings, I knew from the tender age of four that I wanted to work in the world of conservation and steadfastly worked toward that goal. 


My family had always had strong wanderlust and I was no different. I longed to visit Africa – home of my birth and of some of the most iconic wildlife in the world.  I returned to Niger briefly in 1994, and finished my B.S. in

Biology cum laude in 1996.  In that timeframe, I became an avid birdwatcher and heavily involved with National and local Audubon Societies, serving on the board for 10 years.  An M.S. in Molecular Biology followed, and a family not long after.  We eventually relocated to California to raise my two amazing kids and work in the conservation field. 


My travels have taken me to six continents, almost all for wildlife and birdwatching, and my children now also have the wanderlust!  It will serve them well in life and will expand their horizons. 



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