Bridget B. here, the Saturday, January 3rd show, An Evening of Afrotainment, was a bit reflective with a little nudge on how we the people, in 2009, can be change agents. I went back in time to play some old "spirituals" using Amazing Grace and Ol' Man River as my easing in approach to the first segment of the show.
It was 1927, Jerome Kern created the music and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics. Show Boat was the musical that told the melancholy story of the hardships black people went through and the "...struggles of the time, related to the endless flow of the Mississippi River, from the view of a dock worker on a showboat. It is the most famous song from the show. However, the most famous rendition of it, one that is still noted today, was sung by Paul Robeson in James Whale's 1936 film version of Show Boat (Robeson had first performed the song in the 1928 London production of the show and in the 1932 Broadway revival, and
had even recorded it with Paul Whiteman's orchestra back in 1928)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ol%27_Man_River
I selected Milton Nascimento's humming version of Ol' Man River as it had more of the mystery that I was trying to invoke, more melodious in it's presentation allowing me to convey the heaviness of the time in which that song came to life, while being able to use it as a bridge/parallel, somewhat, to a rough year that finally came to a close. Milton Nascimento is regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian pop singers both in Brazil and abroad. Nascimento is also an outstanding composer who has influenced generations of musicians. http://cliquemusic.uol.com.br/en/Artists/Artists.asp?Status=ARTISTA&Nu_Artista=402
"Milton was born under Scorpio in Rio de Janeiro in 1942, but grew up with adoptive parents in a town called Tres Pontes in the landlocked province of Minas Geraes, which translates to "General Mines". The area is a stronghold of Catholicism in Brazil, and the church-like harmonies that inform so much of Milton's music began here. He gathered a set of boyhood friends around and eventually moved to the capitol city of Belo Horizonte to begin his professional life as a musician. After years of club dates, festivals and other experiences, his songs came to the attention of one of Brazil's greatest singers, Elis Regina. At her invitation, Milton showed up with his guitar and played all of his songs for her, all the while nervously wondering whether or not he was boring her. When he ran out of material, she simply asked, "Is that all there is?", and thus began a magical partnership. When a song gets airplay in Brazil, the composer and lyricist are always named along with the interpreter, so from then on his future was assured." It wasn't until Wayne Shorter approached Milton and they began recording together did Milton begin to gain awareness outside of Brazil.
"Nascimento is stylistically related to the esthetic of the Ariola period but employs a humbler palette. Although it does not quite reach those remembered heights, it is nonetheless a work of rare potency and blazing percussive fire. It was produced by Russ Titelman, who is best known for his mega selling albums of "adult rock" and who was behind Milton's duet with James Taylor on "Angelus""...http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/feature/nascimento.html read more