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Narrative of a Slave Woman: Songs of Hope, Justice, and Freedom

A powerful presentation by soprano LaToya Lain and pianist Casey Robards that examines the issue of slavery by combining musical performance with spoken narrative accounts. About the project, Lain says, "In 2003, HBO presented a documentary entitled 'Unchained Memories' about the stories of former slaves interviewed during the 1930s' Federal Writers' Project. As I read the print version of these slave narratives and later watched the documentary, I began to see how the stories of these men and women are told through the Negro Spirituals. I saw the direct relationship of some of my favorite spirituals and the life stories of remarkable slave women, whose names, if not for these narratives, we would have never known. I was inspired to take these narratives and combine them with concert arranged Negro Spirituals to tell the story of one former slave woman through song."

LaToya Lain is a member of the voice faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as the Metropolitan Opera Chorus. Equally at home in the teaching studio and on the performance stage, she performs solo recitals, oratorio, and opera worldwide. She was recently a member of the GRAMMY Award-winning cast of "Porgy and Bess" at The Metropolitan Opera, and this season she returned to The Met for performances in Terrance Blanchard's jazz opera "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," Wagner's "Die Meistersinger," Mahler's 2nd Symphony, and Verdi's Requiem. Dr. Lain's research includes the intensive study and performance practice of Negro Spirituals. She has performed her lecture recital "Narrative of a Slave Woman: Songs of Hope, Justice, and Freedom" on concert stages and at universities throughout the world.

Casey Robards is on the faculty of the University of Illinois. She is entering her 13th season as a faculty artist at the Bay View Music Festival where she is the MainStage Opera Conductor, Head of the Collaborative Piano program, co-creator of a two-week vocal and collaborative piano intensive and coach/pianist for the American Spiritual Intensive program.

Free admission.

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