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Good News; You Can Tell the World; Deep River; Ride on King Jesus

November 12, 2023: Angel Blue, soprano; Bryan Wagorn, piano


Angel Blue concludes her program with a set of four traditional spirituals, an apt choice as it reflects a significant time in her life when she and her sister dreamed of being opera singers. Interviewed for PBS’s Great Performance: The Magic of Spirituals episode, she reflected on Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle’s Spirituals in Concert, which she as a seven-year-old and her older sister watched with intense interest. Said Blue, “We took it upon ourselves to become Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle. So we would hold hands in my sister’s room and we would play on VHS ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,’ and we would sing that back and forth to each other. . . . And we’d sing it over and over again. This concert has been one of the things in my life I think that has kept me going in terms of opera and what it means to be a classical singer.”

The four spirituals she has selected range from the jubilant “Good News,” which rejoices in the “robe” and “crown” awaiting in “that Kingdom,” and the equally upbeat “You Can Tell the World,” to the profoundly moving “Deep River,” concluding with the triumphant “Ride on King Jesus.” Her emotional involvement with these spirituals reflects her deep family ties, not only to her sister but to her father Sylvester Blue, a singer and choir director who she says is “the reason I sing, the reason I know anything about opera.”

—©Jane Vial Jaffe

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