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Kathleen Battle, soprano and piano, choir, and narration | Underground Railroad — A Spiritual Journey

  • Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts 1601 Broadway Kansas City, MO, 64108 United States (map)

Soprano Kathleen Battle, one of the great divas of our time, was previously presented by the Harriman-Jewell Series in 1989, 1990, and 1999. For her long-awaited return to the Series, Battle will be joined by a 29-voice choir and pianist Joel A. Martin for a moving program of traditional spirituals, with narration drawn from the writings of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Kathleen Battle’s soaring voice has carried her to the heights of the classical music world. The range of the five-time Grammy winner’s repertoire spans three centuries from the Baroque era to contemporary works, which she performs with symphony orchestras and in recital halls around the world. Perhaps what distinguishes this luminous soprano most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering bond with audiences through a voice that is “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” (The Washington Post).

Kathleen Battle performed Underground Railroad at the Kennedy Center last month to the delight of audience members and reviewer Anne Midgette for The Washington Post. "It all added up to a long, packed and thoroughly enjoyable evening; the capacity audience in the Concert Hall certainly got its money’s worth. Rather than witnessing a memorial to a soprano’s storied past, we got something vital and compelling and very much in the present," Midgette reported.

Joel A. Martin, pianist for the upcoming concert, is the creator of Jazzical, a marriage of classical and jazz, and more. In the last couple of years he has collaborated with and/or written music for Grammy Award-winners Kathleen Battle, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, cellist Eugene Friesen of the Paul Winter Consort, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers, among many other artists. Martin was the youngest pianist ever, and the first African American pianist, to compete in the 1985 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Read Paul Horsley's feature preview for The Independent: Classy Comeback: Storied Soprano Returns, in Glorious Voice, with Powerful Message

traditional spirituals with narration

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