Jun. 11th, 2015

zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
A June tradition at my church is Music Sunday, and this coming Sunday, at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m., the choir will be performing a new setting of Darrell Grant's Ruby Bridges Suite.

It is going to be outstanding. Darrell Grant is on piano and keyboard; man can play. Brian Foti on drums -- ditto. Same for the guy on string bass (whose name I didn't catch, apologies!). Connye Florance is one of the soloists (I haven't heard Lari White yet, who's another). Majic Jackson narrating, with words by MLK and Maya Angelou and others. The gifted and dedicated Seth Adler working sound. Yes, I'm name-dropping, because some of you locals need that to get you out of the house on a summer morning (and I include myself in that group).

Some of the songs have had me tearing up as I study them. The text alone won't convey why -- it's the rise and fall of melody and harmony that hits me in the gut -- but here are some of the lines anyway. In "Hold My Hand," Ruby's mother sings to her:


Hold my hand, child, hold my hand
Someday you will understand
Straight ahead, child, never fear
God is watching, love is near

For the world, child, is not fair
Danger follows everywhere
Lift your eyes, child
You will see
God is watching
You are free


And in "Come in," a teacher sings to her student:

Ruby, you're a special one.
Pray that I can see you through.
There's so much meanness in the world
but you should know they don't see what I see.
In here you're just a little girl
who has a right to learn who she can be.

With faith, and time,
you'll see that I believe in you.
We've much to learn, we two.


Darrell says he spent twenty years writing the finale, "We Rise," originally composing it for a sophomore album that fell through, and then revising it periodically (with a four-bar stretch that kept defying his attempts to perfect the piece), and then realizing that all the great creators resort to "shims" at times, and later recognizing that the suite was where the piece belonged...

Rise up, brand new day
You know that love will find a way
Together we cannot be broken
Up from the bitter past we rise
To build a world where peace is spoken
The time is now
At last we rise
This time the circle can't be broken
This time the ghosts of hate must die
We'll throw the gates of Freedom open
The time is now
At last we rise


Again, the music is essential -- left to my own devices, I don't know that love will find a way, I see circles broken every damn day, and on, and on, but when I'm singing those words, my unbelief doesn't matter. Rise up, brand new day.

Like many other commuters, I've been cranky about the congestion amplified by CMA Fest (a friend retweeted Gretchen Peters's quip about meanderthals, and I admit I laughed out loud) ... but I've also been entertained by the skin and plumage on display, and I managed to miss the fish parts on the interstate snarl-up, and I give thanks yet again for the pleasure of living in a city with session players on virtually every block. When I got home tonight, the rock cellist and/or guitarist (not always sure what the instrument is, but the playing is consistently good) who lives a couple of houses away was practicing licks.

Music in the air, fireflies in the yard, doggie at the door, piano waiting ... praise.

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