This is the second song to appear here from the exquisite and rarest of female voices – Marian Anderson. So here I am listening to this song through shoddy laptop speakers. Can one imagine what it must have been like hearing her sing in the same room?
Marian, it’s said has been recommended down through the generations from Grandmother to granddaughter: ‘Pay attention, this singer is marvellous‘. Grandmothers as far as I know have the best advice. For a more extensive biography of Marian and her legacy in 20th century Arts, you can view my post – Ave Maria (1944).
Deep River is one of African-America’s most cherished spiritual songs, popularised by Henry Burleigh in his 1916 collection Jubilee Songs of the USA.
According to wikpedia: Deep River has been sung in several films. The 1929 film Show Boat featured it mouthed by Laura La Plante to the singing of Eva Olivetti. Paul Robeson famously sang it accompanied by male chorus in the 1940 movie The Proud Valley. And in the 1983 blockbuster hit National Lampoon’s Vacation it was sung by Chevy Chase.
Allow me to indulge if you will with this video clip that brings back good memories:
Deep river, my home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that Gospel-feast?
That Promised Land, where all is peace?
The composer Toscanini said her voice had a natural bent toward poetry, and that she really communicated one-on-one with her audience. I couldn’t agree more.