September 24, 2015

Kathleen Battle to lead audiences on “A Spiritual Journey: Music from the Underground Railroad” at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center on Oct. 16

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asc kathleenbattleStep back in time and explore the deeply moving musical traditions of enslaved Africans in America, led by superstar soprano Kathleen Battle and legendary jazz pianist Joel Martin.

Battle and Martin will be joined by The Oakwood University Aeolians from Huntsville for “A Spiritual Journey: Music from the Underground Railroad” on Friday, Oct. 16, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

This once-in-a-lifetime performance is set for 8 p.m. in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $37, $57 and $77. A limited number of $25 tickets for UAB faculty and students are available. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.

A special, free pre-concert talk is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Chair of the Morehouse College Department of Music and respected educator and lecturer on African-American music Uzee Brown Jr., Ph.D., will speak on “The Negro Spiritual and the Underground Railroad.”

For this remarkable evening, Battle will take a break from the European vocal tradition she commands so brilliantly to lend her pure voice to the interpretation of soul-stirring Negro spirituals. With the Oakwood University Aeolians Choir, Battle will awe and inspire the audience with favorite spirituals, including “Go Down, Moses,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Fix Me, Jesus” and “Balm in Gilead,” and will display the purity of her vocals on an a cappella rendering of “Were You There?” Sponsors of this performance include Alabama Power Co., Alabama State Council on the Arts, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, The Links Inc., Birmingham Chapter, VIVA Health and WBHM.

At a rare performance of this program in 2014, CBS Philly says Battle’s heart is in her work with these powerful, gripping songs, and quotes her as saying, “There wasn’t a spiritual that I’ve ever heard that I didn’t want to make my own. I may not have sung it, but it lives within me.”

Battle is a fixture on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses, and this will be a unique opportunity to see the five-time Grammy-winning soprano perform in Birmingham. Do not miss an amazing opportunity to embark on a rare musical journey led by a voice The Washington Post called “... without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world.” 

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