June 10: Black Composers – Gibbs, 2014

Jon CurtisSeason of the Day, SOTD - June

In honor and support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Consort Chorale’s Season of the Day will be presenting a five-day mini-series featuring songs we have enjoyed singing and performing over the years by talented black composers. This special program includes compositions by Moses Hogan, Stacey Gibbs, Brazeal Dennard, and Rosephanye Powell.

We begin with Stacey Gibbs, a composer who has become one of the most commissioned arrangers of our time. His recent collaboration with the famed group, The King’s Singers, confirms his popularity and the demand for his work, and also demonstrates the remarkable skill he has in bringing new life to well-known music. Most amazing, perhaps, is the fact that Stacey’s main profession is not music, but retail sales. Allan has worked with Stacey on many projects, shared the workshop stage with him, and is proud to call him a good friend.

The lyrics are a reminder that the violence against, and oppression of black people that we still see today has been going on for centuries. The piece appears to be a slave’s thoughts and the retelling of the experience of being hunted by their slave master, while they’re praying to God to save them from being killed. The program notes from a performance of this piece by the St. Charles Singers in St. Charles, IL, said, “The music serves to underscore the cruel reality of slavery and the despair the slaves must have felt, yet the powerful ending speaks to the strength to overcome.”

God, great God a’migh’y, migh’y.

Ridin’ in a hurrry, ridin’ like he angry,
bull whip in one han’, cowhide in de oth-uh.
Cap’ain went to yel-un’.
Did you hear de cap’ain shout,
“Take off yo’ shirt now ‘cause I’m gonna kill ya!”

Great God a’migh’y, migh’y.

Hear the captain comin’, ridin’,
won’ be no mo’, runnin’ an hidin’.
O hear my cry, O Lawd,
please hear my plea, O Lawd.

Bully went to pleadin’, have mercy, mercy.
Please don’ you kill me, captain, don’ you kill me!

No, stop!
I’m fightin’ till my death.
I’m gonna keep on a-runnin’ till my ver’ las’ breath.
Shoutin’ great God a’migh’y, God!