Lost Love Song at the Lumina Festival of the Arts, July 22, 2019

By John Sullivan/July 15, 2019

We want to thank everyone who made Lost Love Song at the Lumina Arts Festival such a success. UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium was filled with a wonderful audience, the stage was filled with brilliant performances, and we had a ball. We hope you enjoyed the show! If you missed it, we hope you’ll join us for our next event! Audio, video, and photos of the show will be available soon. In the meantime, you may peruse our program.

From the Program:

Lost Love Song
The Music of Samuel Coleridge Taylor
July 22nd, 2019
7:30 PM

Rhiannon Giddens, Regina Carter, and John Jeremiah Sullivan unite for “Lost Love Song,” a musical search for a forgotten masterpiece by Samuel Coleridge Taylor that reaches back to the origins of the blues. Music scholars often dub Coleridge Taylor, a London-born musician whose father was African, “the first great black composer.” His finest work was inspired by the legendary Fisk Jubilee Singers, out of Fisk University in Nashville. Coleridge Taylor witnessed concerts they gave on a European fundraising tour in the 1890s, and their stirring performances of old “plantation melodies” gave him renewed artistic fuel for his compositions. Carrie Sadgwar, a Wilmington native, was the lead soprano for the Fisk choir during those years. Sadgwar’s “boy friend” and future husband was none other than Alex Manly, the editor of the Daily Record, the pioneering African-American newspaper destroyed by a white-supremacist mob in the violence of 1898. Much about Carrie’s own remarkable life and career remains unknown, and will be explored here tonight. Multiple lost stories and songs––forgotten to history or in some cases deliberately blotted out––will surface in the course of this unique event.

Rhiannon Giddens—Performer / Creative Consultant
Regina Carter—Performer / Creative Consultant
Xavier Davis—Piano
Francesco Turrisi—Piano and Percussion
John Jeremiah Sullivan—Performer / Creative Director
Christa Faison—Choir Director / Musical Consultant
Monnie Swepson—Williston Alumni Choir Director / Accompanist
Joel Finsel—Research / Production Support
Trey K. Morehouse—Production Manager
J. Robert Raines—Projection Design / Sound Design
Maria Chandler—Production Assistant
Madeline Wilvers—Production Assistant

Rhiannon Giddens is a Grammy Award-winning musician and MacArthur “Genius” known for her sublime voice, dazzling banjo, and fierce intellectual engagement with the history of American music. Before embarking on her expanding solo career, the Greensboro native was a co-founder of the groundbreaking Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Detroit-born Regina Carter, who teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, is also a MacArthur fellow. She is widely credited with having expanded the possibilities of the jazz violin. When not touring with her group—or with Xavier Davis, who accompanies her on piano tonight—she has performed as a guest soloist with artists including Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, and Dolly Parton.

John Jeremiah Sullivan is a Guggenheim Fellow, a writer for The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker, and the author of the bestselling collection Pulphead: Essays. He is one of the founders of Third Person Project, the research collective that helped produce tonight’s show. He has lived in Wilmington for fifteen years.

Christa Faison is a graduate of Wilmington Christian Academy, UNCW, and the South Carolina School of the Arts, from which she holds a Master’s in Music Education. Outside of her teaching duties at Snipes Academy, she is a Minister of Music, as well as a violinist in the Wilmington Symphony and Tallis Chamber Orchestras.

Francesco Turrisi left his native Italy in 1997 to study jazz piano and early music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands. Labeled a “musical alchemist,” he has released seven critically acclaimed albums. Earlier this year, he and Rhiannon Giddens collaborated on There Is No Other, which was given a rare 5-star rating by the Guardian.

Xavier Davis is an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator who, in addition to performing with other groups, leads the Xavier Davis Trio. He has performed on two Grammy-winning albums (The Good Feeling and Bringin’ It), taught at Juilliard, directed the Harlem Boys Choir, and currently teaches Jazz Piano at Michigan State University.

Trey Morehouse is the Artistic Director of MoB Theatre in Wilmington, NC, a youth advocacy group. Trey has worked with Burning Coal Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA), and New Swan Shakespeare (Irvine, CA). Recent directing credits include I AM MY OWN WIFE in Cambridge, New York.

The Williston Alumni Choral Ensemble was formed in 1984 under the direction of the late B. Constance O’Dell. The choir is made up of former members of the Williston High School Glee Club, Williston Marching Band, and family and friends of Williston graduates. Participants include members of graduating classes ranging from 1944 to 1968. This ensemble has performed at Kenan Auditorium, Thalian Hall, and, in December of 1994, at the White House.

Williston Alumni Choir Members
Mary Gaymon
Dale Beaton
Anna Patton
Atheda Watson
John White
Eurania Brown
Ray Swepson
Joe Highsmith

Additional Choir Members
Shay Thompson
Tyshan Omar Stringfield
Yaminah Lewis
Gregory Devon Brown
Mariah Martin
Bianca Shaw
Tori Thomas
Joy James