America Again—Lara Downes (Sono Luminus 90227)
You’ll find the words of this album’s title in a current campaign slogan, but the spirit of the pieces in this program is far, far removed from 21st century politics. In fact, the title comes from Let America Be America Again, a 1935 poem by Langston Hughes that moves through anger at current and past injustices to assert that the idea of freedom for all is actually achievable: “O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath—America will be!” Lara Downes curates 21 selections from a remarkable range of composers, men and women, white, black and Latino, gay and straight. Read the NPR First Listen review. America Again reflects an abiding faith and a quiet confidence that are in short supply right now. It turns out that appreciation of where we’ve come from—musically as well as historically—and optimism about the future are not passé.
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