Musical Musings: February 18-25, 2021

Hello members and friends of UUCC, 

I hope you can be a part of our online worship service this Sunday, February 21st, which will be led by UUCC’s own Shirley Nelson and explore the concepts of hope, justice and unity. See below for this week’s Music Notes.

Music Notes – Sunday, February 21st:

Pre-Service Music: Brooks Was Here – Thomas Newman

Born in Los Angeles, composer Thomas Newman (b. 1955) is primarily known for his film scores, which include The Green Mile, Finding Nemo, American Beauty, and many others. He comes from a large family of musicians and composers, most notably his father Alfred Newman (a nine-time Oscar winner for best film score) his older brother David Newman (also a film composer with nearly 100 scores to his credit) and his cousin Randy Newman (a successful singer-songwriter and film composer). Thomas Newman’s score for the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption earned him an Academy Award nomination for best score. Newman’s use of open chords and shifting modalities in “Brooks Was Here” reflects the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that is central to the narrative of the film. “Brooks Was Here” will be played this Sunday by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney.

Music 1: One Voice – Ruth Moody

Two-time Juno Award winning singer and songwriter Ruth Moody (b. 1975) was born in Australia but raised in Manitoba, Canada. She is a founding and current member of the Canadian country/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys. Moody wrote “One Voice” in 2004 for The Wailin’ Jennys and the song was released in August of the same year on the group’s debut album 40 Days. “One Voice” has since become the Jennys’ signature song and has been performed and recorded by numerous other artists as well. In this Sunday’s service, the song will be led by UUCC’s Women’s Ensemble.

Music 2: I Know This Rose Will Open – Mary Grigolia

396 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, “I Know This Rose Will Open” is a 1989 composition by UU Minister and songwriter Mary Grigolia (b. 1947), who is currently serving congregations in North Olmsted and Oberlin, Ohio. Although short and simple, the song can be performed as an overlapping round, revealing multiple layers of texture and harmonic color like its namesake flower. In this Sunday’s service, you’ll see and hear a performance of “I Know This Rose Will Open” by Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, a UU musician and composer who is currently the music director for the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Music 3/Offertory: A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

Written and originally performed by Sam Cooke (1931-1964), “A Change Is Gonna Come” is one of the most significant songs in the history of American music. The song first appeared on Cooke’s 1964 album Ain’t That Good News, and was inspired by Cooke’s experiences as a person of color, especially a 1963 incident when he and his entourage were refused entry to a motel in Shreveport, Louisiana because of their race. The song’s original release only met with modest success, but “A Change Is Gonna Come” is now thought of as Cooke’s signature song, becoming an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement and meeting with near-universal acclaim by music critics and historians. In 2005, Cooke’s song was voted number 12 by representatives of the music industry and press in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, it made NPR’s list of “The 300 Most Important Songs Ever Recorded”, and the song was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress in 2007. The words “A change is gonna come” are inscribed on a wall of the Contemplative Court, a space for reflection in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Cooke’s lyrics were famously quoted by Barack Obama in his acceptance speech after winning the U.S. Presidential Election in 2008. “A Change Is Gonna Come” has also been covered and sampled by many other artists, including Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Céline Dion, and Seal. This Sunday, you’ll be hearing a piano interpretation of this classic song by UUCC’s own Karin Tooley.

Music 4/Postlude: We Would Be One – Jean Sibelius/Samuel Anthony Wright

A few weeks ago, our World Community service included hymn #159 “This Is My Song”, a favorite of many UUs. This Sunday’s service will close with its sister hymn, #318 “We Would Be One”. Both hymns are built around the Finlandia melody, borrowed from a 1900 tone poem of the same name by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The words you’ll be hearing – and singing along with – this Sunday were written by Unitarian minister Samuel Anthony Wright (1919-2016) for Unitarian and Universalist youth at their Continental Convention of 1953-54. Matching the sentiment of the hymn, that event resulted in the youth of our two parent faiths merging to become the Liberal Religious Youth of the United States and Canada, nearly 10 years before the official creation of the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961. The UUCC Chancel Choir with organist Mike Carney will lead “We Would Be One” in our virtual service this Sunday.

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director