America Again—Lara Downes (Sono Luminus 90227)
For the week of Thanksgiving 2020, a Thanksgiving unlike any that has preceded it, we bring back one of our favorite CDs from 2016. The title comes from Let America Be America Again, the 1935 poem by Langston Hughes that moves from anger at current and past injustices to assert the idea that 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. America Again reflects an abiding faith and a quiet confidence that seem to be in shorter supply now than in 2016. It turns out that regard of and respect for where we’ve come from—musically as well as historically—and (dare we say it?) optimism about the future are not passé.