Original Cast Recording

The Gospel at Colonus [Original Cast]

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Playwright Lee Breuer and composer Bob Telson had an idea: Retell the story of Oedipus using a gospel choir and soloists as the storytellers. The result was The Gospel at Colonus, which had a very successful theatrical run and produced the extraordinarily beautiful song suite presented here. Telson made the inspired decision to allow much of the weight of the enterprise to be borne by the enormous talents of Clarence Fountain & the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and the J.D. Steele Singers, featuring the absolutely incredible voice of Jevetta Steele (who would have a bit of a hit with the title song from the film Calling You). Some of the songs are priceless: "Stop Do Not Go On," with its heartfelt vocal urgings from Sam Butler, is a showstopper of its own, but it's followed by "How Shall I See You Through My Tears," a devastating number with Steele singing in a voice possessed of positively unearthly beauty. Intriguingly, not only can Breuer's lyrics be read as either traditional gospel text or pertaining to the story of Oedipus, but they can also often be heard as love songs from the R&B tradition. There's not a weak song on the record. Telson, a one-time member of the Philip Glass Ensemble and an associate of numerous jazz musicians (Lenny Pickett and John Hagen are in the ensemble here, for instance), successfully sublimates these influences and manages to create a remarkably authentic pop-gospel hybrid by entrusting the interpretation of his pieces to the artists who deeply know the genre. When the entire cast converges for the penultimate "Lift Him Up," the effect is nothing short of electrifying. Highly recommended not only for fans of gospel music but also for anyone interested in the diverse directions of contemporary music in general.

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