According to director Joel Cohen, American spirituals are "the untutored but vigorous religious music of Colonial America, and the rugged, folk-derived spiritual song of the countryside." It will be well worth your while... more » to hear for yourself these musically rich, involving, and often exciting tunes from Southern shape-note songbooks, out-of-print hymnals, and other early manuscript sources. Don't miss this one. --David Vernier« less
According to director Joel Cohen, American spirituals are "the untutored but vigorous religious music of Colonial America, and the rugged, folk-derived spiritual song of the countryside." It will be well worth your while to hear for yourself these musically rich, involving, and often exciting tunes from Southern shape-note songbooks, out-of-print hymnals, and other early manuscript sources. Don't miss this one. --David Vernier
"This CD is absolutely amazing; the first time I listened to it, I was lukewarm and contemplated returning it. However, the second time around, I was crying throughout. The first song is a jewel, and my heart breaks upon each listen. The women vocalists are angels, and the male voices are earthy, yet just as sweet (and Anne Azema, I need hardly mention, is a goddess, as always). The acoustics are also delightful: the sound is just as if they're singing in a little church out in the middle of "nowhere," much like the church on the cover (I adore that cover photograph).Some CDs are good "homework" music; this one is not. You cannot listen to it without paying rapt attention. I am in the habit of putting on headphones and turning it on sometimes when I go to bed, and just lying there in the dark with the exquisite harmonies and poignant lyrics wafting through my ears. Buy this now, and try it. It will bring tears to your eyes."
gaios33 | 09/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The outstanding Boston Camerata introduces the listener to early american religous music, which is quite different and much more exciting than the bland, uninvloving tunes in the hymnals that are sitting in church pews these days. Anyone interested in American cultural and/or musical history needs this!"
R. Albin | 04/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I mention shaped-note singing to most people, they think of the most raucus form of gospel, which may be fun, but which has little beauty to it. Far from it, true shaped-note is an American, energized form of the medieval and renaisance music of Europe, and the Boston Camarata's background in early music does so well to bring out its madrigal qualities. In addition, the recording itself is of such clarity, that the nearly three-dimensional effect of its antiphonal singing is better represented than on any other early american album I've heard"
R. Albin | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 02/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This very enjoyable CD is an anthology of notable American religous music from the end of the 18th century to approximately the end of the Civil War. It concentrates on the so-called shape note and related traditions. Drawn heavily from old hymnals and song books, this CD features a number of lovely pieces, including some by the remarkable Boston composer William Billings. Some pieces are presented in parallel with the secular songs and music used to develop the sacred music. Beautifully performed."