Feel the Spirit!

13 Sep
My latest CD!

My latest CD!

Get the Spirit!

My newest CD, Every Time I Feel the Spirit, has just been released. On it you will find selections of recordings I made with some of the best choirs in Europe during my twenty-year career in Germany. It’s a compilation of uplifting, high energy arrangements of spiritual music that features favorites such as “Kumbaya,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as well as less well known songs of soulful celebration.

It’s a natural for a Christmas present!

To order Every Time I Feel the Spirit, please e-mail me for details.  $15/ea; 2 for $25.

Check Out My Brochure!

22 Apr


You can download a pdf here.

“Disgraced” in Vienna

22 Feb
My daughter Lynne

My daughter Lynne

They say the apple never falls too far from the tree.  I’m very happy to let you know that my daughter, Lynne, is proving the truth of this old saying.  Lynne is flourishing as an actress/singer/voice teacher in Europe.  She plays a leading role in The Vienna Theatre Project’s European premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar.

The Vienna Theatre Project is an acting troupe that makes high-quality English-language theatre productions available to the people of Vienna.  In this production, which explores racial and ethnic prejudices that “secretly persist in even the most progressive cultural circles,” Lynne plays an African-American lawyer who is also the wife of a Jewish Art dealer.  The couple’s friendship with a Muslim lawyer and his Christian wife opens up not just the proverbial “can of worms,” but a “combustible powder keg of identity politics.”

You can read more about Disgraced here.


UMOJA in Ohio

10 Nov

I finally have found the chance to take a break and catch up with this blog.

UMOJA Men's Chorus CD

UMOJA Men’s Chorus CD

I always wanted to work with a prison population and, lo and behold the opportunity presented itself. Last summer, I was invited by Dr. Cathy Roma, a friend of Ysaye Barnwell, to teach workshops at Ohio Prisons. Dr. Roma is a Professor of Music at Wilmington College in Ohio. As a part of her music ministry, she founded and directs UMOJA Men’s Chorus at the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio. Recently she started the UBUNTU Men’s Chorus at Madison Correctional Institution in London, Ohio and she also directs the World House Choir in Yellow Springs. Dr. Roma says that new spirituals are being written behind bars in today’s prisons that reflect the continuing repression of African-Americans in our society.

The African-American Spiritual tradition has always captivated and inspired me. The opportunity to witness a revival of that tradition was irresistible to me. I should add that Dayton, Ohio is the home of my 95-year old mother and Yellow Springs is where my dear NPR friends, Neenah Ellis and Noah Adams live. So the decision to go to Ohio was an easy one.

My first workshop was held at a women’s prison in Dayton. The participants were unbelievably attentive and respectful women. One of them was a Gospel singer. I don’t know why she was in there.

The next day I coached the World House Choir in Yellow Springs, Ohio on the Antioch College campus. My dear friend Neenah Ellis sings in the choir and Dr. Roma conducts it. We met at the Coretta Scott King Center. It was the perfect place for us because Coretta Scott King was a voice major at Oberlin and got her Master’s degree in Education at Antioch. Because it’s such a large group, the men and women rehearse separately. I led the women’s rehearsal which was held in a church nearby. There was a huge group of women at the rehearsal. I worked with them to refine their diction and I taught them some wonderful chants. It was really great!

The next day, I worked with the men of the World House Choir, and the day after I conducted a workshop at the UMOJA Men’s Chorus at the Warren Correctional Institution, a men’s prison in Lebanon, Ohio. Dr. Roma had sent me an incredible CD of the UMOJA Men’s Chorus performing songs that the inmates had written. I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. The men had beautiful, unbelievable voices. It was a mainly African American group. Participants were of all ages, from teens to septuagenarians.

The following day I went to Madison Correctional men’s prison in London, Ohio that was much higher security – barbed wire everywhere. It’s strange when they lock doors behind you and you find yourself behind gates and barbed wire. You walk through all of these doors and you come out into a green, beautiful campus. Rehearsals were held in the chapel. They’ve stopped educational programs in the prisons but they allow Dr. Roma to continue her music programs. The men in Madison were a more racially diverse group than in the other prisons. European or African-American, I believe these men are going to be different people when they come out because they have music in their lives.

Dr. Roma is doing such wonderful work. She said to me when we left the prison, “Charles, I could do this every day.”


Mother to Son

26 May

A belated Mother’s Day Tribute.  Tom Teasley accompanies as I read the Lanston Hughes poem, Mother to Son.

Singin’ in the Rain

19 May

Doing the Rain Dance!

Our recent wet weather brings to mind one of the silliest and most fun gigs I’ve ever had.

Austrian television’s Dagmar Koller Show hired me to reenact Gene Kelly’s iconic rain dance and song from the film Singin’ in the Rain.  They had two suits on set, and I changed into the dry one after every take. There was water all over the studio! It was fun.

Luckily, I got to sing the song in English because I had to focus all my attention on keeping my balance — tap dancing and singing while being drenched with gallons of water is very challenging!


13 Jun

More Honors for Einstein on the Beach

2012 Addition to the Library of Congress’ National Recorded Sound Registry

In an earlier post I told of how Einstein on the Beach, the Philip Glass Opera I’m appearing in, won England’s coveted Olivier Award.  Now the 1979 recording of Einstein joins iconic American recordings such as Artie Shaw’s Begin the Beguine (1938), the Original Cast Album of South Pacific (1949) and Chubby Checker’s The Twist (1960) in the Library of Congress’ National Recorded Sound Registry.

The National Recorded Sound Registry was established by Congress to preserve America’s legacy of music, spoken word and natural sound.  The oldest recordings in the collection go back to the earliest experiments in sound recording in the mid-nineteenth century.  The collection is designed to showcase “the diverse beauty, humanity and artistry” of American recordings in every genre from field recordings to classical music to hip-hop.  Einstein+on+the+Beach+disc+3+frontcover

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