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‘We are coming, Father Abram’

Free GSU concert spotlights Civil War-area music Friday

‘We are coming, Father Abram’

‘We are coming, Father Abram’

Alan Jones, from left, Cindy Miller ...

A free concert Friday evening at Georgia Southern University will spotlight Abraham Lincoln and feature Civil War-era music.

Michael Lasser, Cindy Miller and Alan Jones, all of Rochester, N.Y., will perform songs of the Civil War. The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Carter Recital Hall in the Foy Building on the Georgia Southern campus.

Lasser, the author of the presentation, “We Are Coming, Father Abram: Abraham Lincoln and the Songs of the Civil War,” grew up in New Jersey in the shadow of Broadway. He is a lecturer, writer, broadcaster, critic and teacher.

“I saw my first Broadway musical at age 10,” Lasser said. “I can’t imagine my life without the theater and its songs.”
Lasser has a nationally syndicated public radio program, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” which was a 1994 Peabody Award winner.

He has spoken at universities and art and history museums in 34 states and the District of Columbia since retiring from teaching writing and literature. He is well-known around Broadway and musical venues.

Jeff Tyzik, the principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra said of Lasser: “He is a walking encyclopedia of the history of American song and dance. His narratives are delivered in an engaging style that highly entertains the audience.”

While Lasser will be the narrator for the concert performance, two other singers/musicians – Miller and Jones – will perform the songs he discusses from the Civil War period. Miller is a concert singer, and Jones is both a singer and accompanist.

Lasser calls Miller “a musical chameleon.”

“She turns into Julie Andrews one minute and Ella Fitzgerald the next,” he said. “Her distinct stage personality underscores everything she does.”

Of Jones, Lasser said, “Alan does everything from conducting choirs to playing piano and singing in cabarets.”
“I’ve thrown every kind of song at them, including some they’d never heard of, from ragtime to 19th century sentimental ballads to rock ’n’ roll,” Lasser said. They love the challenge, and the playfulness and will entertain the heck out of you.

“My job is to give the songs we’ll be doing context in a very entertaining way,” he continued. “The singers will bring all of that to life through the venue of music.”

Some of the numbers to be performed on Friday include, “Ho! The Car Emancipation,” “I Am Thinking Most of You,” “Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Dixie.”

All of the period songs are thematic, according to Lasser, and will highlight the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

“Folks from the North have a different perspective on some of these songs than those from the south,” Lasser said. “For instance, ‘Dixie,’ that great old Southern song, was actually a favorite of Lincoln and the North before it was adopted by the South. Albert Pike wrote a few additional lyrics to the song, and it became appeasing to the South.”

“We are Coming, Father Abram” depicts Lincoln as a great leader who redefined the republic in his Gettysburg Address, and one of almost biblical stature (“Father Abraham”).

The concert is the final performance in the America’s Music grant series. It is sponsored by the Zach S. Henderson Library and is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint and the Society for American Music. It is being made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is open to the public.

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