Lawrence Brownlee: Elegant And Operatic Gospel Songs

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Lawrence Brownlee's latest recording is 'Spiritual Sketches.'

Lawrence Brownlee is a major force in the opera world, playing leading roles rarely given to African-American singers and performing on the stages of the world's great opera houses. Playing and singing in roles of Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and Idreno in Rossini’s Semiramide, Brownlee demonstrates a musical and technical prowess, thanks to his elegant and soaring voice and graceful command.  

But Brownlee also has a love for African-American spirituals; he grew up in Youngstown, Ohio singing gospel music in church. On his latest recording, Spiritual Sketches, Brownlee returns to his first musical love with a collection of traditionals reinvented with his operatic vocals and some jazz-inflected arrangements by Damien Sneed.

Hear Brownlee and Sneed perform selections from that record in an intimate session in the Soundcheck studio.