The music of Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell is masterfully composed. Leading the listener on an aesthetic journey of epic proportion and directing the performers to engaged artistic delivery, Powell’s music is expertly crafted, balanced, accessible, and enriching.
–Ollie Watts Davis,
Suzanne and William Allen Distinguished Professor of Music
Black Chorus, Artistic Director and Conductor
University of Illinois
As the Deer Pants * Published by Hal Leonard (HL.8745423)
Alabama All-State Women’s Chorus 2011, Jeff Clayton Conductor
Beginning to middle
Middle to ending SSAA sacred song, piano accompaniment. Psalm 42 is the inspiration for this breathtaking work. Strong vocal lines coupled with an arresting piano accompaniment provide multiple opportunities for musical expression. Composer notes: In As the Dear Pants, I imagined the biblical character David experiencing a dry, lonely time in his life–perhaps as Saul, Absalom or one of his other enemies pursued him. David is aware that his dryness is as much about his spiritual state as it is his physical location in one of the desert plains. The state of his soul is compared to a deer in desperate need of a lake or pond from which to quench his thirst. In David’s case, that pond is the very presence of God. In his desolation, David’s tears have served as nourishment, allowing David the much-needed release of feelings of frustration and loneliness. Everyone, he feels, has turned against him and taunts him, asking “Where is this God of yours who will rescue you?” (This is heard in the music as the accompaniment and voices take on a more agitated presentation.) But then, in a moment, David begins to remember. Yes, he remembers a time in which he danced in worship as a youth, or as he and the people brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem . Oh, what rejoicing there was! He led the procession. So much so, that he danced out of his clothes, with no shame as King! And, for that moment as he remembers, there is joy! (Hopefully, one can hear musical ideas of an Israeli dance in the accompaniment beginning at “these things I remember”) But, all too soon, David is brought back to the reality of his present state, one of loneliness, dryness, and thirst. In the end, David realizes that this thirsty state is the best place for him to be for this is what will keep the warrior and king humble, drawing close to the very heart of God as he serves others. And, after all, God has delivered him in the past; thus, He will do so again.
Ascribe to the Lord SSAA demo w/piano *Gentry Publications – JG2308
Performed by the Kansas CDA All-State Women’s Choir
SSAA, anthem, piano accompaniment. Composer notes: The A section is the exhortation to worship. The B section is the act of worship. And, the brief return to A is the closing exhortation to depart in worship. The piano accompaniment, centered around the pitch c , with chords interspersed, should be played with rhythmic energy and drive. It was premiered by the Plymouth Music Ensemble and Orchestra under the direction of Philip Brunnelle. So, it may help for the pianist to imagine an orchestra. Of course, the piano is unable to provide the powerful accompaniment that would be provided by an orchestra. However, the piano accompaniment in the B section should set up the sense of awe and stirring waters by means of the tension created in the quick repetition of middle c . In this section, the voices should build until they climax on in the unison singing of “The voice of the Lord is POWERFUL!” Be sure to stress POWERFUL and MAJESTIC. This section is the climax of the piece. The release of tension (created in the B section) occurs at the return of the A section. The song then builds to a final climax with the repeat of WORSHIP HIM, each one more emphatic and louder than the preceding one. The final him should be as emphatic and dramatic as possible. Note to the director: Let the final “HIM” hang in the air (in silence) before relaxing your arms and the choir.
Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit *Gentry Publications JG2380
Commissioned by the Sofia Chamber Choir “Vassil Arnaudov”-Bulgaria. This exciting SSAA acapella arrangement of the popular spiritual is sure to please!
Good News *Gentry Publications JG2311
SSAA, spiritual arr. A setting of the spiritual that is full of energy and excitement! It builds to a rousing, climactic ending! Not your ordinary song for women’s voices, it moves audiences as they witness the beauty and strength of women’s voices.
Grumble Too Much *Hal Leonard HL – 08742400
SSAA, Caribbean folk song arr., accompanied.This Caribbean folk song is an irresistible change of pace that makes light of woman’s inability to please a man. –Hal Leonard
I Wanna Be Ready *Gentry Publications – JG2315
SSA version arr. by William C. Powell Demo: SATB version
SATB accompanied spiritual arr. (gospel-style piano). This spiritual arrangement includes a gospel-style piano accompaniment. Because of its homophonic texture, and strophic form, the choral parts are easy to learn. It includes a solo for medium low/high voice.
I Want To Die While You Love Me SSAA, w/piano NEW! #HL 00156854 or Gentry Publications: JG2489
Rosephanye Powell has taken a passionate poem of love by Georgia African-American poet Douglas Johnson and given us notes that truly sing. A fitting wedding song, it celebrates the moment when love is at its fullest. It fits almost any advanced high school, college or community/professional women’s chorus concert program! From the Composer: Georgia Douglas Johnson (1877-1966), considered to be the most prolific female poet of the Harlem Renaissance, was the first black woman since Frances E.W. Harper to receive national acclaim in literary circles. Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from Atlanta University and the Oberlin Conservatory of music, and settled in Washington, D.C. Johnson’s poetry deals frequently with love and life observations. Her artistic output includes works as a playwright, fiction writer, songwriter, journalist and poet. She published four volumes of verse: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962). I was immediately drawn to this poem when I first read it. Georgia Douglass Johnson describes a day in which she and her beloved experience the height of passion; one day spent alone in which each finds pleasure in the other and the fire of love is full flame. It is a day that Johnson hopes will never end and wishes to carry to her death: “and bear to that still bed, your kisses, turbulent (passionate), unspent, to warm me when I’m dead.” The poet longs to die in the bliss of this moment, such that she “never sees the glory of this perfect day grow dim or cease to be.” One might ask “Why should one desire death in the midst of such joy?” The poet answers: “Oh, who would care to live til love has nothing more to ask and nothing more to give, I want to die while you love me.” The reality is that love may wane; that the passion experienced today may die in time. Therefore, Johnson’s ultimate desire is to “die while you love me”. As a composer, I found Johnson’s lyrical and poignant poetry to be most inspiring for musical development. Her ability to share such depth of passion succinctly took my breath away. At times, because of the depth to which she had touched my heart, I wondered if I could adequately share with others musically what Johnson had shared with me. And, I am humbled to be a vehicle through which Ms. Johnson’s poetry may touch the hearts of many others.
Keep Yo’ Lamps Shawnee Press #MFB0002. Distributed by Hal Leonard (HL.35011982) New!
For SSAA choir, a cappella (SSAA A CAPPELLA). Shawnee Press. Sacred, Advent. Commissioned by MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, this song is full of the energy and drama associated with American slavery and the underground railroad. The haunting drums and repeated, emphatic “No”‘ will call you to keep your lamps trimmed and burning in Rosephanye Powell”s stirring arrangement of this spiritual. The slave is encouraged to stay awake through the night, being watchful for Harriet Tubman who would be sure to come at any time. The undoubtedly tired slave who has worked all day is cautioned against becoming weary in her waiting for the “time is drawing nigh”. This song is fun to learn and is sure to please any audience!
Kingston Market Hal Leonard HL – 08741815
SSA or three-part treble, Caribbean folk song arr., acc. This traditional Caribbean folk song makes a wonderful showcase for treble choirs. Joyful rhythms, easy-to-sing layered harmony parts and optional percussion highlight this setting by Dr. Rosephanye Powell. Available: 3-Part Treble. Performance Time: Approx. 2:00. –Hal Leonard
Non Nobis Domine Gentry Publications JG2340
Audio demo: satb version featuring VocalEssence, MN.
(VocalEssence, MN) SATB, a capella, sacred, Latin, motet. The SATB setting of iNon Nobis Dominei has become one of Rosephanye Powell’s most celebratedworks. The driving energy and ostinato rhythms are classic elements from Rosephanye’s pen. Her husband William has adeptly revoiced this a cappella setting for SSAA –Fred Bock Music
Sanctus Hal Leonard HL08743507
SSA, a capella.
This new setting of the traditional Latin text is a perfect teaching piece for women’s choirs. The strong piano accompaniment combined with tender vocal lines creates much opportunity for musical expression. –Hal Leonard
Sicut Cervus Alliance Music Publications AMP 0584
SSAA, a cappella, Latin motet. “Rosephanye Powell’s “Sicut Cervus” is a powerful and ethereal setting of a timeless text. Structured loosely in a rondo form (ABACA), the A section is reminiscent of the mysticism and otherworldly quality associated with plainchant (although it is not monodic). The A sections alternate with increasingly powerful polyphonic sections, which explore the questions raised in the psalm text. The contemplative ending offers, in its final moment, a harmonic “ray” of hope. This selection is an ideal choice for medium to advanced women’s choirs.” –Judith Willoughby, internationally-recognized choral conductor
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child SSAA JG2475 NEW! http://www.fredbock.com/Detail.asp?tid=JG2475 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxX7Vgz2BT4 SATB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgajhyJXQbc SATB version
Rosephanye Powell’s gripping arrangement, heart-wrenching harmonies and soulful blue notes express the mournful grace of this traditional spiritual. The inclusion of the two brief West African texts adds years of history and depth to this somber Spiritual. The surprising “Picardy” ending provides a pleasant reassurance. School or church Medium difficulty. From the Composer: In this arrangement, I sought to express the final moments of a slave who has been whipped and beaten at the hands of the slave owner or overseer, as his/her life ebbs away. The African words are translated “something terrible has happend, something has happened to mothers.” As the slave drifts away to freedom (death), in the midst of his/her pain, memories of the motherland and of the mother who was sold away engulf the slave. The African words “Bokayan nu wo vinowo” represent these painful memories. They also depict the African priests’ drawing the slave’s soul/spirit back to Africa through death. The lofty [Oo]’s of the first soprano’s beginning at measure 24, paint musically the slave’s longing to depart this world and soar to freedom/heaven. In measure 37, the slave’s spirit is finally released from the slave’s body and ascends to heaven–the homeland, and freedom. Measures 42-44, depict the African priests, hovering over the dead slave, delivering final rites in death, as the slave breathes his/her final breaths. Upon the “Amen,” the slave through death finds peace, and returns to the homeland, heard in the picardy third (major chord).
Still I Rise Gentry Publications JG2346
SSAA, piano accompaniment; upbeat women’s message song in the gospel style. “This original song by Rosephanye Powell reminds us of her African-American roots with its Spiritual-like style. Commissioned by “Vox Femina,” one of the ensembles selected to perform at the ACDA National Convention, 2005, the piece has already received a rousing reception. The encouraging text and determined tune will assure this piece a staple for women’s choirs the world over.” –Fred Bock Music From the composer: Still I Rise was inspired by the poem of the same name by poet laureate Maya Angelou. It is a women’s anthem, saluting the strength of women to persevere through life’s difficulties–low self-esteem, physical and emotional abuse, rape, incest, prejudice, abandonment, and such like. In summary, though a woman’s life or past may be filled with tears and heartaches, with each day that she finds herself still living, she finds that she has grown stronger and risen a little higher because her circumstances have not overcome her. Thus, every new day can be one of hope and joy because regardless of the past, today, “still I rise”!
Swing Low: A Spiritual Medley (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Deep River; Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen), for SSA and piano. Shawnee Press 35032480
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojzUxgbtjCc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to60UwzJ40Y You can check it out at: https://www.jwpepper.com/Swing-Low%3A-A-Spiritual-Medley/10981282.item#/ J.W. Pepper Editor’s Choice: This exciting new setting for SSA voices begins with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot followed by Deep River then Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen. In the final section, it gloriously combines all three melodies to “Glory, hallelujah! Comin’ for to carry me home.” The luscious harmonies and surprising dissonances propel the piece with longing and desire. Exquisite! From the Composer: This work was commissioned by Kim Mitchell for the 20th anniversary of the Girls Choral Academy, Grand Rapids, MI. These three songs were sung to Ms. Mitchell and her sister when they were children, by her father. I would like to share excerpts from the letter that she wrote to me which I found truly inspiring, and which gave birth to this medley:
“A cherished memory is my father singing to my older sister and me when he would put us to bed. He had a smooth, deep baritone voice. First he would sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot for my sister, standing by her bed in our room…Then he would stand by the door and sing Deep River…This was my first introduction to spirituals. I am Catholic…This music was beautiful, but formal and strange, distancing. The God of my father’s spirituals was almost a grandfatherly presence. You could come to Him and tell Him your troubles in everyday, deeply personal language. He might not solve them in this world, but He would when you came home to Him. Knowing He would listen eased life’s pain and the stories of the life to come gave hope to keep on. This is a God who comforts. This hope of comfort is why I love spirituals, and what I want to capture in the piece. And I believe that hope is universal. When my choir went Ireland, we gave a concert in an old church in Kinsale. The priest must have made some threat or offered indulgences because the place was filled. They were an appreciative crowd and clapped after every song. In the choir loft was a family with several children, including a little curly haired girl. We did some traditional American hymns. Then we sang a spiritual. The crowd was silent for a moment after we finished. Then the church just seemed to explode. I looked up, and the little girl was hanging over the railing, tears running down her cheeks. The spiritual is how we all want to speak to God. In spirituals we give our blues to God…When I decided I wanted to commission a piece of music I was stumped about the subject. I was frozen for over a year. Then I assembled a picture book for the 70th birthday of my oldest sister, who had lung cancer. I looked at all the old black and whites, and remembered things I hadn’t thought about for years. And I thought about the music we grew up with, remembering the bedtime ritual. I played Mahalia Jackson’s version of Deep River, by far my favorite of those songs, on my phone. She got to the bridge and I was struck speechless. This was not the song my father sang. The deep river part was, but instead of the bridge, he sang: “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down. Oh yes Lord. Sometimes I’m almost to the ground. Oh Yes Lord.” Thinking about it, I realized that came from Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen. Yet it worked perfectly with Deep River. I tried singing pieces of other spiritual and they fit together. And then I knew what I wanted to commission: a medley or compilation of great spirituals so that people could hear, understand and love them, even white bread choirs like mine…I am very excited at the prospect that this will be my legacy to my parents and to the choirs that have meant so much to me. But this is also a gift to myself. These are the songs I want to hear as I leave this world. I want my family to sing them as I am buried. I sang some of them by my sister’s grave. These are the songs I know I will hear if there is a hereafter. And I hope you will make this all possible. Thank you.”
Is that not inspiring and motivational? That is what the African-American spiritual is about. Ms. Kim’s desire for these three songs to be sung together as a beautiful, lyrical gift to those who hear them–as a soothing balm, as words of hope and comfort was and is truly compelling. I am Black and she is White. We grew up and live in different parts of the country and are from different generations. But what we feel in our hearts and our love for these songs and their message unite us. This is the power of song!
Swing Low: A Spiritual Medley begins with a lullaby of Swing Low in the piano as an intro.It is followed by Deep River, with the piano accompaniment sounding the “flowing river” them. This is followed by Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen which has an accompaniment that is both “dreamy” and “flowing water”. I envisioned Ms. Mitchell and her sister, nodding off, as their father sang to them. There is a child-like playfulness at “sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,” as the girls get delight hearing and being near to their father. When the partner song begins (all three songs sounded at the same time), the lullaby feel returns as the girls start dozing off and their father slowly leaves the room. Here the melodies mingle in the girls’ minds and ears as they work to stay attentive while falling asleep. The song ends as it began with the piano sounding the “Swing Low” melody which carries the girls into the land of sleep (home).
There Is A Place, A CAPPELLA, SSAA Gentry Publications JG2346 NEW!!
The message of peace and justice are stated as a gentle prayer. Melodic and painted with subtle harmonic hues, this is simply a gorgeous worship piece or concert closer that will melt hearts. Accessible, engaging and timely.