Less than two years ago, she was a receptionist honing her phone-answering skills at a music organization in Birmingham, England. Now, she's got a record deal and critical acclaim, and she's touring the U.S.
On Spirityouall, McFerrin performs classic black spirituals with roots in enslaved communities, as well as songs he composed himself. Throughout the album, he says, he hears the influence of his father, Robert McFerrin Sr., a renowned operatic baritone.
Shape-note singing is a communal form of music that began in New England 200 years ago, mostly from townsfolk without any musical training. Sam Amidon says the melodies of shape-note hymns are some of the "deepest-seated for me."
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