On May 29, multiple Grammy-winner Kathleen Battle returns to Roy Thomson Hall for the first time since 2008. Her performance will feature the spirituals that have appeared in her repertoire for years, garnering wide acclaim, but which take on special meaning when brought together under the banner of Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey, a special afternoon of song featuring acclaimed pianist Joel A. Martin and Toronto’s own national treasure, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.
That Battle returns to the Hall is cause for celebration. CONTINUE READING >
Photo: Mobeen Ansari
A pioneering artist in a form long dominated by males, Abida Parveen is one of the most prominent and influential Sufi musicians of our time. She has transformed the tradition of Sufi singing and inspired a folk, and feminist, renaissance, influencing countless musicians – from Pakistani rockers to Björk (who remixed one of her tunes). But though she is a part of a very specific tradition, her work transcends boundaries, linking her to great artists across the musical landscape.
Which is why the specifics shouldn’t get in the way of digging in to her music. Like the best art, it’s not about language, or what, exactly, the definition of “Sufi music” might be. As the BBC put it in an album review, “it’s clear that the best devotional music (whether Gregorian Chant, John Coltrane or Le Mystere de Voix Bulgares) has a power to communicate across racial and denominational divides.”And Parveen’s performances are nothing if not a physical and musical demonstration of that power: Both performer (who’s admitted to hallucinating while in the thralls of the music) and audiences (often sent into literal swaying rapture) become transported.
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