Audra McDonald

How Glory Goes

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On her debut album, Way Back to Paradise, Audra McDonald made a point of championing the work of a new generation of musical theater composers. Having made her point, she turned, on her second album, How Glory Goes, to a mixture of the same kind of material and older songs by established theater talents, particularly Harold Arlen. Her performances of Arlen's "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home," "I Had Myself a True Love," "A Sleepin' Bee," "I Never Has Seen Snow," and "The Man That Got Away" confirmed that Arlen had found yet another champion among great women singers. McDonald's versions of the songs didn't make you forget those of predecessors such as Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, but they had a theatrical precision and art-song esthetic those showier singers could never touch. McDonald brought the same attributes to musical theater standards like "Bill" from Show Boat and "Somewhere" from West Side Story, as well as less-well-known but worthy selections such as "Come Down from the Tree" from Once on This Island and "When Did I Fall in Love?" from Fiorello! She reserved five spaces on the album for contemporary composers, notably Adam Guettel whose "Was That You?" and "How Glory Goes" got sympathetic readings. The album's most moving song was "I Won't Mind," which treated the unusual subject of the love felt for a child by a family friend. It was such songs, on this and McDonald's previous release, that made listeners want to hear the whole scores of the works from which they were excerpted, or even see productions of them -- and, of course, that was the idea.

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