Various Artists - Music From "The Great Debaters" (2008)

Various Artists
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The Denzel Washington directed film The Great Debaters has won over film critics and audiences with it's stirring portrayal of the debate team at historically black Wiley College in the 1930s. Nominated for a Golden Globe as well as multiple NAACP accolades, Washington has secured his place among the greats of this generation as a fine actor and director. However, another title can be added to his ever expanding resume, and that is music producer.

Along with G. Marq Roswell, Washington personally selected most of the songs and instead of relying on classic blues, gospel, and jazz songs of that particular era, these songs were re-recorded by relatively new artists. Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Sharon Jones, and The Carolina Chocolate Drops contribute their talents to create an old school feel that compliments the film's look at the Jim Crow period.
The Denzel Washington directed film The Great Debaters has won over film critics and audiences with it's stirring portrayal of the debate team at historically black Wiley College in the 1930s. Nominated for a Golden Globe as well as multiple NAACP accolades, Washington has secured his place among the greats of this generation as a fine actor and director. However, another title can be added to his ever expanding resume, and that is music producer.

Along with G. Marq Roswell, Washington personally selected most of the songs and instead of relying on classic blues, gospel, and jazz songs of that particular era, these songs were re-recorded by relatively new artists. Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Sharon Jones, and The Carolina Chocolate Drops contribute their talents to create an old school feel that compliments the film's look at the Jim Crow period.

From the acoustic guitar driven "My Soul Is a Witness" and the spiritual "City of Refuge" to the "jook joint" classics "Busy Bootin'" and "It's Tight Like That," this is a great preface into black music long before the days of Little Richard and Big Mama Thornton. Since The Great Debaters celebrates a black history first, the 17-track CD ends with a stunning rendition of Handel's "Begrussung," performed by Marian Anderson, who in 1955 became the first black to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera two decades after the great debaters of Wiley College defeated Harvard. Highly recommended.  

By Christopher Whaley
 
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