Friday, March 07, 2008

Porgy and Bess: Real Black Acting and Singing

Please don’t go see the new Tyler Perry coon-o-rama (Meet the Browns, due out in Spring 08). I’m not trying to hate; I just believe that if we settle for movies like this then we’ll never get to see really good movies/shows/theatre with Black actors.

Case in point: last week, Porgy and Bess was in town. Porgy and Bess is probably the greatest American Opera ever created – and it’s always acted out by an all-Black cast. Of course, none of the urban radio stations bothered to mention that Porgy was in town - though they were sure to let their listeners know that My Baby’s Daddy Can Dunk On Jesus (featuring Lenny Williams, "Shug" from A Color Purple, and Kim Fields) was playing at the Academy of Black “Arts” and Sciences.

Anyway… for those that have never heard the music of Porgy and Bess, I’ve included some interpretations from Gershwin’s classic.

“The Buzzard Song” is the opening track off of Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess. This album is Davis’ third partnership with Gil Evans – and arguably their greatest collaboration (for more on that, read here).

The next track is Billie Holiday’s “I Loves You, Porgy.” Lady Day really captures the melancholy of the song; she sounds like she really IS Bess.

The final track “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” is sung by opera greats Leontyne Price and William Warfield. Price and Warfield performed in a 1950’s Broadway revival of the show; they recorded “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” along with other highlights from the opera, in the early 60s. Beautiful and moving, their version is the gold-standard for this duet.

Miles Davis - "The Buzzard Song" [

Billie Holiday - "I Loves You, Porgy" [

Leontyne Price and William Warfield - "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" [

1 comment:

  1. thank you so much for posting these tunes... I have yet to see the play but these songs make me even more anxious to experience this part of our history! Thank you for sharing!