Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gospel CD mixes

The cover of my Gospel Music double disc mix with artist help from Elisabeth Rene
Back in December of 2010, I spent some time in the eco-village of Lynchdoche near Capetown, South Africa. I volunteered there, hanging out with the kids, pretending I knew something about gardening, and having a blast spending time in a country I had always wanted to visit.

I was in love with the music, fascinated by the history and curious to know the state of a country that was only 16 years (at the time) out of Apartheid.

One of the amazing things I got to do was visit Joya Homes, an "unofficial" orphanage, about an hour away. This orphanage is not supported by the government financially. Instead they have become a Section 21 Non-Profit Organisation, accepting donations.

Lydia Tom had a few kids of her own, but she started to take in other kids that needed help. When I was there, I believe there were about 18 children living with her. They relied on what others gave them. Some of these children where found in trash cans, some of them on doorsteps. Some of them are HIV positive. They were well behaved and sweet as can be.

I gave one of the teenaged boys my shoes and entertained the idea (just for a second) of taking one of the babies home with me, until reason set in. When I got back to California later and celebrated my 31st birthday I asked my friends to donate money that we could send to them. I hope they were able to buy something they needed and/or enjoyed.

In one of the last Joya Home newsletters, there was a request for money to buy Gospel Music CDs and DVDs. I sent an email asking if I could make them some CD mixes of American and South African Gospel music. They answer was yes, so I did. I had a blast making these.

The cover of my Mahalia Jackson CD mix
Because I wrote my Masters Report about American gospel music, I have collected quite a bit from the 60s and 70s, Mahaliah, Sam Cooke, the Dixieland Hummingbirds and more. And of course because I love to collage, I made some covers that I am REALLY proud of, and got to hang with my amazing friend Elisabeth Rene who provided help with lettering and decoration.

I hope the kids like them. Selected song lists found below. As usual, let me know if you'd like me to make you a copy.

The cover for the Soweto Gospel Choir's 2005 Voices from Heaven

Make a Joyful Sound – A Gospel Mix CD 1
1. Come and Go To That Land - Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers
2. Amazing Grace - Blind Boys of Alabama
3. Touch Me, Lord Jesus - Angelic Gospel Singers
4. Let's Talk About Jesus - Bells of Joy
5. When the Saints Go Marchin' - In Blind Willie Davis
6. Let Me Lean On You - Brooklyn All-Stars
7. I Won't Be Back - Caravans 
8. Bedside of a Neighbor - Dixie Hummingbirds
9. Swing Down, Chariot Golden - Gate Quartet
10. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands - Mavis Staples
11. Nothing Can Change Me (Since I've Found the Lord) - Pilgrim Travelers
12. Highway to Heaven - Professor Alex Bradford
13. Peace In the Valley - R.H. Harris
14. God Is a Battle Axe - Sallie Martin Singers
15. Rock Me - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
16. Feel Like My Time Ain't Long - Soul Stirrers w/ R.H. Harris
17. Dry Bones - Stars of Faith 
18. Working On a Building - Swan Silvertones
19. This Heart of Mine - Two Gospel Keys
20. Lift Him Up, That's All - Washington Phillips
21. Blind Barnabus - The Golden Gate Quartet
22. Down By The Riverside - Sister Rosetta Tharpe 
23. Oh Happy Day - Edwin Hawkins 
24. We Shall Overcome - SNCC Freedom Singers w/ Pete Seeger

Make a Joyful Sound – A Gospel Mix CD 2
1. Last Mile of the Way - Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers
2. Sit Down Servant - The Staple Singers
3. I'm Sealed - Dorothy Love Coates & The Original Gospel Harmonettes
4. What a Friend We Have in Jesus - Aretha Franklin
5. He's Worthy
6. Every Day Will Be Sunday (By And By) - Dorothy Love Coates                                                            and The Original Gospel Harmonettes
7. Swing Down, Sweet Chariot - Spirit of Memphis
8. Wade in the Water - The Staple Singers
9. Steal Away - The Harmonizing Four
10. Let's Go To the Programs - Dixie Hummingbirds
11. Will the Circle Be Unbroken - The Staple Singers
12. I'm Willing - Albertina Walker/Caravans/I. Andrews
13. Move Upstairs - Bessie Griffin & W.H. Brewster
14. Hallelujah - Farifield Four
15. Go Tell It on the Mountain - Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir
16. Christ Is All - The Soul Stirrers
17. You'd Better Get A Move On - Louise McCord
18. Shadrack - Pure Gospel Chorus 19. By and By (part 1) - The Soul Stirrers & R.H. Harris
20. God's Unchanging Hand - Church in Como, Mississippi
21. Samson and Delilah - The Staple Singers
22. Do Your Thing - Marion Gaines Singers

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Power of Beethoven's 9th and Following the Ninth documentary

Bing Concert Hall Opening Night, Stanford University - January 2013
There are few classical pieces of music that have been known to bring me to tears in my lifetime. These are compositions I know well enough, have a personal history with, and know some cultural history about. But they are also simply POWERFUL pieces of music and hold great emotional value, which is the main quality that has made them famous.

So when you experience them live, even this Agnostic says, there is nothing else to do but gaze upwards and bawl your eyes out knowing in your soul that music still exists in this world to make you feel everything all at once and you are ALIVE.

It also helps when you have just found out that one of your best friends is finally getting married and you've had a very difficult month and desperately trying to see silver linings :)

Verdis' Requiem is on this list, and so is Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

On June 2nd, I had the opportunity to hear Beethoven's 9th in Bing Concert Hall, Stanford's brand new concert space. I have worked there for the last few months and have had the pleasure of spending some time in the new Hall, seeing folks like Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet, NY Polyphony and Steve Reich. The June 2 performance with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra was not only the last show of the season long Beethoven Project, but also the entire the year's season. So there was extra finality to it.

The last movement ("Ode to Joy") is the super famous movement: you know, the one with the melody. But I had forgotten that the first and second movements are so charged with anger, emotion and passion. I think I like those even better.

There are so many memorable little moments including the timpani getting to rock out, feeling a little manic as the mood changes from LARGE to tiny and then building up again. The creepy, crawlyness of the second movement. You want to conduct from your seat.

Beethoven wrote this last symphony when he was an old curmudgeonly deaf man. It made him so sad and mostly ANGRY to be deaf. This medical situation kept him from the music that he loved so dearly. And out of this anger and passion, he wrote an incredibly powerful and beloved piece of music. But even more, the last movement is about Joy, PURE JOY.

This is my favorite bit. Even in his depression and anger, he was still able to bring out the joy of living.

And even MORE, thanks to the documentary I found through kickstarter "Following the Ninth", which follows the 9th around the world and back through time. Where was this symphony used? How was it used? What does it mean to entire nations?

To the Japanese is a tradition like American's worship Handel's Messiah. Students played the 9th at Tiananmen square. It's been used to power rebellions in South America.

Watch the trailer for Following the Ninth here:


It is with great joy that I bawled my eyes out during this performance. Kudos to the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jindong Cai for providing a beautiful performance.

Following the Ninth has started screening its way across the country. I implore music lovers to check out it when it comes to your town.