NEW YORK CITY (June 11, 2013) – Damien Sneed and Lawrence Brownlee’s collaborative effort – Spiritual Sketches – is now available internationally on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. The album features freshly arranged versions of traditional spirituals. Sneed, an acclaimed pianist conductor and composer, reimaged the songs, while world-renowned operatic tenor brings his commanding voice to the project.
The album, released through LeChateau Earl Records, blends gospel, classical and jazz elements. The songs pull from the historical legacies of composers such as Harry T. Burleigh, Hall Johnson, Margaret Bonds and Moses Hogan while including elements of American jazz music and gospel music from the African-American church experience. The album is simultaneously a re-imagining of and a love letter to a traditional art form.
“The songs are touching, moving arrangements on historic themes from our ancestors,” said 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. “Damien and I simply wanted to carry on the tradition in a new and exciting way, and it has warmed my heart hearing all the positive responses thus far regarding the project, and people have truly been touched by it.”
The arrangements made their debut at Carnegie Hall in March as part of Brownlee’s solo recital tour. Already Sneed and Brownlee have performed the arrangements for audiences in Asheville, Cincinnati and New York City. On Sunday, the pair performed selections from the arrangements at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and the Apple Store in Soho.
The album features fresh 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.
Already “All Night, All Day” has received rave reviews and is being positioned as the standout among the compilation of 10 traditional spirituals. The song has been met with standing ovations at each performance and the New York Times called the arrangement “striking” – a testament to its brilliance.
“This project has really been a labor of love,” Sneed said of the project. “We blended several elements of American jazz music and gospel music from the African-American church experience. My hope is that these arrangements expand the listening audience of this art form while simultaneously bringing attention to its rich heritage.”
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