Morning Song – Hallelujah
Here’s a song for an Easter Monday. (H/t Lisa Fullam at dotCommonweal.) As one of many projects celebrating the 250th anniversary of George Handel’s Messiah, producer Mervyn Warren put together “Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration”, a reinterpretation in African-American musical idioms of some of Handel’s best-known and best-loved pieces from the Messiah. It’s a terrific album and this cut is the icing on the cake.
I recall hearing Phylicia Rashad (nearly 20 years ago) being interviewed about this album, and in particular, about this recording of the “Hallelujah” chorus. By coincidence the recording session was scheduled for the morning after the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of the police beating of Rodney King was announced, and Los Angeles had erupted.
Musicians aren’t morning people. But, as Rashad told the story, “people needed to be together”. When she showed up at the studio an hour before the scheduled start time, folks were already waiting outside. Everyone showed up early. When they went inside and started singing, the emotion was palpable. And it’s that emotion that’s captured on this recording.
Hallelujah—even, perhaps especially, in the midst of the storm.