Saturday, April 30, 2011

Solace in a Woman's Voice

Easter Sunday morning, I was listening to WPFW 89.3FM and one of my favorite programmers, Myuki Williams, played Ms. Roberta Flack's "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" and it just froze me in my tracks as it had done when I was a kid.

In this wild and crazy time of armed struggle on different fronts, world economic challenges, political rancor and intolerance for others, I was momentarily taken back to a most innocent and optimistic time in my life. I felt myself, literally, releasing all concerns for schedules, to-do lists, obligations or where I needed to be. I just wanted to hear Ms. Flack's melodic voice again!

Not having a copy of the song in my collection, I immediately searched YouTube for this drop-dead work of vocal artistry and stumbled on a young woman, Leona Lewis, who this old fart had never heard before. Thinking, "who would dare tread on this sacred legendary work?"

I gave a listen.

From her first moan/note, I was amazed how this British-born artist caught my attention. Lewis imbued the lyrics of this timeless piece with mature emotions, phrasing and timing, leaving me to believe so much greater than her youthful years should permit.

As one who treasures the written word, I struggle with the question of conveyance: lyrics vs. music; conveyers: men vs. women. Is the most important artistry of conveying the message in one or the other.... and to which audience is the medium most affective? Using the same lyrics, can women convey a message better than men? How much impact does music have? Well, in the case of The First Time Ever I saw Your Face, it leaves no doubt in my mind that it is a talented woman's domain, lyrically and musically.

So, you be the judge. I welcome you to listen to this beautiful, heart-felt rendition of Ms. Flack's signature piece by the lovely and demure Leona Lewis.


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