Townes Van Zandt was a one-of-a-kind artist who blazed a new trail for singer/songwriters, conjuring a sound that combined elements of country and folk with his own artful melodic sensibility, matched with lyrics that were personal, poetic, and impressionistic while remaining firmly down to earth. A new breed of Texas singer/songwriters followed Van Zandt's example, and it's all but impossible to imagine artists like Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, or Steve Earle finding their voice without his guiding influence. This two-disc set features Van Zandt's first two albums, 1968's For the Sake of the Song and 1969's Our Mother the Mountain.
Song of Songs was the first Marlene Dietrich vehicle not directed by Josef von Sternberg. The star plays a zaftig German peasant girl who becomes a nude model. She falls in love with a struggling sculptor, but her ambitions get the better of her and she marries a hedonistic baron. Leaving her husband, Dietrich sinks further down the social scale by becoming a cabaret singer. She is eventually reunited with the sculptor, but not before smashing the nude statue based on her voluptuous frame, thereby symbolically purging her checkered past..
Beauty, purity, and expressivity mark out music for upper voice choirs. On this recording, performed by one of the UK’s leading vocal ensembles, the repertoire embraces classics of the genre such as Gustav Holst’s sublime Ave Maria and his third group of Hymns from the Rig Veda, as well as contemporary music. James MacMillan and Sir John Tavener are represented by works that explore their unique musical language, whilst Bob Chilcott’s technically demanding The Song of the Stars offers richly approachable pleasures.
Jennifer Holliday shot from obscurity to stardom in 1981 when she originated the role of Effi in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls and introduced the song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Holliday quickly earned a reputation as one of the finest vocalists of her generation, but after focusing her talents on gospel music in 1995 with the album On & On, she retired from the recording studio. With 2014's The Song Is You, Holliday makes her long-awaited return to pop music, lending her rich voice and passionate vocal style to a romantic set of standards and R&B classics. The Song Is You includes the selections "At Last," "Nobody Does It Better," "The Look of Love," "Love Me by Name," and many more.
This release offers a pair of fairly early Delius works; they may not be instantly appealing to those making a start with this idiosyncratic English impressionist, but confirmed fans will love them. The roots of Frederick Delius’ Appalachia lay in his experiences as an orange plantation manager in Florida in the late 1880s, where he heard the singing of African-American laborers and, according to his own testimony, first began to think about becoming a composer. The work is subtitled “Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus for baritone, chorus, and orchestra,” and everything about it is intriguingly confused. Florida is not part of Appalachia. Nor is the Mississippi River delta, which Delius claimed was the inspiration for the work, but which he apparently never saw.