Music News 4/17/2019


Angélique Kidjo, CELIA (Verve, $14.98) – Ms. Kidjo’s tribute to the Cuban-born “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz (1925 – 2003). Afro-Cuban music has always been a conversation between African and Caribbean forms, including son, mambo, cha-cha-cha and rumba. Ms. Kidjo re-connects to the Afro-Atlantic deities that Ms. Cruz sang about in “Yemaya” and “Elegua” and her band weaves in African guitars and percussion grooves to the originals. Special guests include Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings and the Sons of Kemet (from London), and Gangbé Brass Band from Benin (where Ms. Kidjo is also from). Highly recommended.

Iestyn Davies & Fretwork, IF: Michael Nyman & Henry Purcell (Signum, $17.99) – Countertenor Iestyn Davies is an expert in Baroque and Elizabethan repertoire, but has also starred in Thomas Adès’s operas, as well as appearing on Broadway in Farinelli and the King, with Mark Rylance. His newest album pairs him with the viol consort Fretwork in works by the contemporary composer Michael Nyman and Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695).

NOTE: On Tuesday, May 14, at the Kennedy Center, Iestyn Davies will sing a program of Purcell, Dowland, and Handel, accompanied by lutenist Thomas Dunford.

Ben Platt, SING TO ME INSTEAD (Atlantic, $18.98) – Dear Evan Hansen had its world premiere at Arena Stage in the summer of 2015, with Ben Platt in the starring role. Later it went to Broadway—where it’s still a smash hit—and won Tonys for Best Musical, Best Score, and one for Platt for Best Actor. The touring company of Dear Evan Hansen comes to DC for a month-long visit at the Kennedy Center beginning August 6.

Meanwhile, Ben Platt is doing movie and TV roles, and has a new album with all of his own songs.


Aretha Franklin was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer, with the special citation: “For her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”

And last week, the documentary Amazing Grace, finally opened nationwide. The film, on the live recording of her powerful gospel recording, is Aretha at her peak, performing with Reverend James Cleveland, and the Southern California Community Choir at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, in Watts, Los Angeles in 1972.

Composer Ellen Reid won the Music Pulitzer for her opera, p r i s m (with a libretto by Roxie Perkins).