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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Handel's soulful Messiah

This is one of my all-time favorite recordings. It features idiomatic renditions of arias, recitatives, and choruses from the famous oratorio based on black musical forms and traditions. Many fine artists collaborated on this exuberant musical project, including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Take 6, the boys choir of Harlem, Patti Austin, and Gary Hines.

There are three reasons (at least) that I like "A Soulful Celebration" so well:

1) It is fantastically creative and well-performed.

2) It illustrates that musical forms are inherently representative of all that it means to be human. They can be offered in praise to God or not, but none are “holy” or “secular” (or “evil”) in and of themselves, nor should they be limited in their applications.

3) it ROCKS

“Every Valley Shall be Exalted” is almost an epiphany, and Al Jarreau does an intense be-bop/shout rendition of “Why Do the Nations Rage” that really cooks.

Why am I bringing this up, when the season so often associated with Handel’s Messiah is past? Because the message is applicable any day or season of the year. And I listened to it today :-)

The recording (CD or cassette) doesn't appear to be readily available but I found it at They even provide listening samples (too short!)* – check it out!

*(Strange – I got a different impression listening to the samples than from the disc itself – maybe because of the puny little tin-can-sounding speakers on my computer. Some of the samples almost sound ridiculous separated from the context of the album. Nah, it’s gotta be the speakers...)


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