for mezzo, cello, drums, and piano
on poetry by Leslie Andrea Williams
Commissioned by mezzo Raehann Bryce-Davis for her debut album "Stand The Storm"
In “Unspoken” our narrator’s ancestors reach for her out of the past through song—and our narrator reaches back.
Out of opaque fragments of drums and cello, shadows of a melody begin to emerge. Our narrator searches for itscompleted form, recognizing the music somehow. The shapes of the pitches, the patterns of the rhythms, all feel familiar.“They have your face...” But only when she lets herself truly sing out on the word “Erola”, a nickname given to her byher family, does the melody begin to crystallize. The cello, rich with unspoken love, begins to sing with her. “Unspoken”charts the journey our narrator goes on to the realization that all that is unspoken – from the rather abstract pride of one’sancestors to the present-day affection of one’s immigrant parents – can, in fact, be given voice: through song.
“Unspoken” was written for Raehann Bryce-Davis, following an interview conducted by poet Leslie Andrea Williams ofRaehann’s father Errol. The first few generations of immigrant families often face an elder family member who showstheir affection through hard work, rather than who vocalizes it as readily as many in mainstream American culture do.Experience with such a family member is something that unites composer, poet, and performer on this project.“Unspoken” is dedicated to those who express their love daily without words. We feel it nonetheless.