Sandra Seaton writes:
Here's a copy of William Bolcom's timely letter of praise for "Lift Every Voice." Perhaps the AfriClassical community would appreciate reading it.
Warm best wishes and thanks,
To AfriClassical: [from William Bolcom]
For many years I've felt "Lift Every Voice and Sing" would be much better as our National Anthem than "The Star-Spangled Banner." Brent Staples' column ["Colin Kaepernick and the Legacy of the Negro National Anthem"] was a joy to read, as I learned I'm not alone in feeling its superiority -- for one thing "Lift Every Voice," aside from its inspiring text, is far more singable than our repurposed drinking song from an almost-forgotten war -- but the hymn's principal virtue is that it nourishes the soul, where in my opinion "The Star-Spangled Banner"'s tune does not.
This summer my new sextet quoted a short passage of "Lift Every Voice," meant as a balm against the current worldwide and growing ugliness found just about everywhere right now. Audience members have told me how even a few bars of the tune had warmed them; most had not heard it before.
A successful national anthem has renewing power in word and note; a great anthem can sometimes transcend nations. Right now we need to be resistant, resolute, and courageous in our arts and affairs, and over time this is exhausting. We need the spiritual food found in "Lift Every Voice" to restore us, and I hereby humbly ask African-Americans to be willing to release that eloquent hymn to all Americans for our souls' health, while realizing that it is a lot to ask from those who have already sacrificed so much.