My motivation to attend the January 21, 2012 UNDERGROUND RAILROAD spirituals concert featuring soprano Kathleen Battle with Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers at UCLA Royce Hall was the final opportunity to hear the quintessential soprano. Ms. Battle had not performed in an opera at the Met since 1994 and was seldom seen in recital. The softness, clarity, and range of her voice in 2012 provided a spectacular finality for me.
Surprisingly, in late 2016, I read Kathleen Battle was returning to the Met after 22 year absence to sing UNDERGROUND RAILROAD spirituals concert with different support elements. Around the same time, I attended the annual Georgia Laster branch of NANM youth scholarship program at Crenshaw United Methodist Church in Los Angeles and mentioned the newspaper story to Dr. Albert McNeil. Dr. McNeil was fully aware of Kathleen Battle return to the Met and he shocked me with the mention of planning in progress to bring Kathleen Battle back to Los Angeles. I quickly dismissed the comment as optimistic speculation.
The elevating Kathleen Battle UNDERGROUND RAILROAD A Spiritual Journey with Angela Bassett (narrator) and Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers March 29, 2018 at CSUN Valley Center For The Performing Arts was the inspired voice of creation. Kathleen Battle has journeyed earth with vigor and an undiminished voice.
-Originally published at AfriClassical