Life affirming, defiant and uplifting, there is nothing quite like the extraordinary power and simplicity of American Spirituals to move and inspire, abundantly demonstrated here by the acclaimed American operatic baritone Lester Lynch in this new release from PENTATONE of familiar and well-loved spirituals and hymns.
Conceived under conditions of tremendous hardship, these emotionally charged songs speak of the indomitable human will to live and to triumph over despair against the odds. Defiant and jubilant, they communicate the unquenchable longing for freedom and salvation.
“I have dreamed of recording this album from the inception of my career,” writes Lester Lynch in the accompanying album notes. “To realize that dream at this particular moment in time, to record these songs of freedom … echoes the spiritual tradition and revolutionary act of those who raised their voices in song against brutality and inequality.”
Lester Lynch personally chose and arranged the songs in this release, each with a particular accompaniment—piano, organ, acoustic guitar, violin, trumpet, harmonica, drum, and djembe (a West African goblet drum). From the rhythmic By An’ By and Ev’ry Time I Feel De Spirit, to the richly melodic Amazing Grace and Deep River, the 24 songs constantly astonish and delight for their range and depth and their unfailing power to move.
“Music speaks to and heals the human spirit,” writes Lynch. “These songs have had a profound effect on American history. I sing them to honor those who struggled (and died) for freedom, and it is my hope that they will spark the light of freedom anew for every listener.”
Lester Lynch is joined on this recording by Victor Simonson (pianist and arranger), Brian Farrell (keyboards and arranger) and the ART Singers and Oakland School of the Arts Ensemble (Choral Director, Alexander Taite).