Will Liverman and Shawn Okpebholo Speak Truth To Power with "Dreams of a New Day"

Mar 3, 2021

Credit Cedille Records

Will Liverman's voice has been praised for its rich tone with a silken sheen and the unique combination of eloquence and unpretentiousness. A graduate of Wheaton College and the Juilliard School, Liverman was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and since then, has been on some of the world's most prestigious stages, including the Chicago Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera, where his debut was as Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly's Marnie. Additionally, he was cast as the first ever black Papageno in the Met's 2020 production of The Magic Flute, he originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker's Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, and this fall, his new opera, The Factotum written together with DJ recording artist, K. Rico, will be developed in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center.

Together with pianist, Paul Sanchez, Liverman has just released a new album on the Cedille Records label entitled "Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black composers." Centered around two new songs written by Shawn Okpebholo, the album includes art songs by Damien Sneed, H.T. Burleigh, Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Thomas Kerr, Robert Owens, and Liverman's own arrangement of Richard Farina's "Birmingham Sunday."

Okpebholo's composition, entitled "Two Black Churches", is a musical reflection of two tragic events, each perpetrated by white supremacists in two black churches, five decades apart: the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, which took the lives of four girls, and the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, SC, resulting in the deaths of nine parishioners. The first song, "Ballad of Birmingham," sets a powerful poem by Dudley Randall, which is told from the perspective of the mother of one victim and her child. The text of the second song, "The Rain," was written especially for this composition by Marcus Amaker, poet laureate of Charleston, SC. "The Rain" is a powerful metaphor of flooding to racisim.

Liverman and Okpebholo say that they hope "Dreams of a New Day" will shine a light on art music by black composers, who have been overlooked and whose music is underrepresented in recording catalogues. They hope that it will spark curiosity among listeners to seek out more music by black composers, while at the same time, telling black stories in a beautiful and poignant way.

More information about "Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers" can be found here: https://www.cedillerecords.org/will-liverman-makes-cedille-debut-with-dreams-of-a-new-day/