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May 2, 2013 (NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.) – Operatic tenor Lawrence Brownlee returns to his gospel music roots with his latest project, Spiritual Sketches. The album is a compilation of traditional spirituals freshly arranged by acclaimed conductor, pianist and composer Damien Sneed. A special pre-­‐release performance showcasing the album will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 at the Apple Store, located at 103 Prince Street. Spiritual Sketches will be released internationally on Tuesday, June 11.

Brownlee, whose voice has earned a stellar reputation in the bel canto repertoire, decided to explore the gospel music genre that set him on his musical path when he was a child.

“My musical background started with exposure to church music; I come from an extremely musical family, with both parents being gifted soloists,” Brownlee said. “There was a love of music that my parents passed on to me and my five siblings. That early exposure in addition to a strong music education throughout all my years of schooling allowed me to be influenced by so many styles of music including classical, jazz, gospel. As a singer of color, I felt the unique responsibility not only to carry a torch that has been passed on by my predecessors, but to expand on the traditional Negro spirituals.”

All Night, All Day,” has received rave reviews and is being positioned as the standout among the compilation of 10 traditional spirituals that blend gospel, jazz and classical elements. Already making its mark from the highly anticipated Spiritual Sketches, the song will touch listeners with the tenderness of a heartfelt embrace. The album is simultaneously a re-­‐imagining of and a love letter to a traditional art form.

“Our aim and goal was to pull from the incredible historical legacy created by composers such as Harry T. Burleigh, Hall Johnson, Margaret Bonds and even Moses Hogan while including elements of American jazz music and gospel music from the African-­‐American church experience,” said Sneed, who arranged each of the songs featured on Spiritual Sketches, and like Brownlee, got his musical start in his local church. “My hope is that these arrangements expand the listening audience of this art form while simultaneously bringing attention to its rich heritage.”

Sneed and Brownlee’s stirring rendition of the classic “All Night, All Day” has been met with standing ovations at each performance and the New York Times called the arrangement “striking” – a testament to its brilliance. The song, as well as other arrangements from the transgenerational project, made their debut at Carnegie Hall in March as part of Brownlee’s solo recital tour. While Sneed and Brownlee have performed the arrangements for classical audiences in Asheville, N.C., Cincinnati, Ohio and Utica, N.Y., Spiritual Sketches has the ability to connect with all listeners.
The album will be released on June 11 on Le Chateau Earl Records. It will feature original arrangements of Every Time I Feel The Spirit, Deep River, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass, Down By The Riverside, Soon I Will Be Done, There Is A Balm In Gilead, Come By Here, Here’s One and All Night, All Day.


About Lawrence Brownlee

The most in-­‐demand American tenor in the world in the bel canto repertoire, Lawrence Brownlee continues to stupefy audiences with the power and agility of his instrument. From firmly American roots, Brownlee has become a star on the international scene, performing opposite the leading ladies of contemporary opera, and lauded continually for the seemingly effortless beauty of his voice.

Brownlee was named the Seattle Opera’s 2008 Artist of the Year, received the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2007 Alter Award for Artistic Excellence, and was the winner of both the 2006 Marian Anderson and Richard Tucker Awards, a feat never before achieved by any artist in the same year. He participated in young artist programs at both the Seattle and Wolf Trap Operas. The Ohio-­‐born Brownlee received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Anderson University and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University. He is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

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About Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed — an acclaimed conductor, pianist, and composer — was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2010 for his extensive work on Vickie Winans’ album, How I Got Over, which received two Stellar awards. Sneed also released his own album, Introspections Live, in January 2011. In addition to serving as musical director for Sunday Best IV, Sneed has also served as music director for gospel legends Karen Clark-­‐Sheard, Vickie Winans, Kim Burrell, Dorinda Clark-­‐Cole, Kierra Sheard, the Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp and many more.


Not only has he worked in gospel, Sneed’s music palette also spans into the jazz and classical arenas. The Howard University School of Music and New York University graduate also performed with other artists including Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, David Sanborn and Fantasia Barrino, among many others. The talented Sneed has also performs regularly with the legendary Wynton Marsalis – one of the highlights of the musical director’s career. He has also been afforded many opportunities to perform with Opera great and Augusta native Jessye Norman, who is an inspiration to Sneed.

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