In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Lena McLin.
Lena McLin, known as the woman who launched a thousand careers, is an African American musician, music teacher, author, pastor, and composer. McLin earned a Bachelor’s degree in music, specializing in piano and violin, from Spelman College, and a graduate degree in music from the American Conservatory of Music. McLin taught in Chicago at Hubbard, Harlan, and Kenwood Academy High Schools. She helped launch and enhance the careers of stars including Mandy Patinkin, Mark Rucker, Aretha Franklin, and Jennifer Hudson. McLin published over 400 compositions; cantatas, masses, solo and choral arrangements of spirituals, art songs, gospels, 21 rock operas, soul and pop songs, works for piano and full orchestra, and electronic music arrangements. Her work was built from both European classical traditions and traditional African-American music, successfully merging the styles. In the 1950s, McLin established musical outlets for African-American musicians with the McLin Ensemble and the McLin Opera Company. Rev. Dr. McLin’s accomplishments include the Chicago Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award and the Human Symphony’s Foundation living legends award.
Suggested choral pieces:
- Can’t You Hear Those Freedom Bells Ringing? (Kjos 8763)
- Glory, Glory Hallelujah (Kjos 5430)
- Down by the River (Kjos 5913)