frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,

  • Music:

Why I Love Community Radio

Now that my radio has inexplicably decided not to receive NPR any more, I have come to love my local community radio station (which broadcasts from a block down the street). They regularly run morning programs on a featured composer. Today's composer is Ysaye Maria Barnwell, who sings with Sweet Honey in the Rock. Barnwell writes absolutely gorgeous music for a capella women's choirs, one of my favorite kinds of singing groups. I know a number of people who don't like the sound of women's choirs, claiming that the sound is too thin, but I think that's just because there isn't enough repertoire that uses that kind of group to its best effect. Barnwell writes the kind of music that really shows off women's voices at their best. Her lyrics are simple and direct, and not at all syrupy, as a lot of women's choir repertoire tends to be. Her compositional style seems to be heavily influenced by the South African choral style of political song (see the film Amandla!).

One of the songs they played, about half an hour ago, was Barnwell's setting of the Khalil Ghibran lyric "Your children are not your children / They are the sons and daughters of life's yearning for itself." I think I remember hearing that performed by one of the women's a capella groups at The Fairest College back in the day. Most of the rest of that group's repertoire was unmemorable, but I remember really liking that piece. I was pleasantly unsurprised to hear it on this morning's program.
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