Thursday, November 21, 2013

Soprano Marti Newland of MELODEON in Complete 'From the Diary of Sally Hemings' (44:54) on YouTube

Marti Newland (

COMPLETE: From the Diary of Sally Hemings, William Bolcom/Sandra Seaton (44:54)   

Artis Wodehouse

Published on Nov 19, 2013

Soprano Marti Newland and pianist Artis Wodehouse of MELODEON perform live in concert a unique 2001 American musical masterwork written by composer William Bolcom in collaboration with librettist and playwright Sandra Seaton called "From the Diary of Sally Hemings" on Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 2013 at Christ and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, NYC.. Sally Hemings (1773-1835) was one of Jefferson's over 600 slaves. After the death of his white wife, Hemings became Jefferson's long-time mistress, and together they produced several children. This relationship was not verified until the late 1990s, when DNA testing of the descendants of this union became available. 

Hemings is not known to have actually written a diary, but William Bolcom and Sandra Seaton have taken the known historic facts about her life and reconstructed her experience through a fictional musicalized first person voice in a cycle of 18 songs:


They say I was born old: 0:22

Martha and Maria: 02:07

White waves: 03:44

Paris, c'est la ville vivante: 07:29

The master brings music to his sitting room: 09:29

I was carrying a tray when he called me: 11:05


They say I was born old...The rage, the anger: 12:54

Come back to America: 14:52

Back home at Monticello: 17:07

Purple Hyacinth begins to bloom: 18:01

My sister ghost: 20:06


Peonies, a perfume box: 24:31

Mister, our child is frail: 26:16

A dark winter blue-black evening: 28:59

Old shoe!: 30:24


A wild man home from the woods: 32:18

Papers! I've never seen so many: 34:14

Night watch till early morn: 36:13

MELODEON is a group of musicians that perform American music of the 19th and 20th century. Presenting "The Diary of Sally Hemings" is an exceptional foray for the group, but the subject matter and treatment is foundational for understanding the United States.

Audio and video was created by Whitney Slaten.

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