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William Bolcom: Ballad of the landlord

“Ballad of the landlord” is a poem by Langston Hughes. It basically is a dialogue between an African American tenant and a white landlord. It’s interesting to me that Langston doesn’t offer any opinions. He tell’s the story as it happens and the reader/ listener has no choice but to develop their own opinion. This poem was set to music by composer William Bolcom in 2002 as part of his cycle “Old Addresses”. Musically, Bolcom marries the worlds of classical singing with soul and even hip hop. This piece was given to me by American Song specialist Paul Sperry at the Manhattan School of Music. If you want to see a live performance of “Ballad of the landlord”, I will be singing this piece on my debut recital at Carnegie on October 9 at 8pm.

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