By David Salazar
PBS is set to present “The Magic of Spirituals” starting on Feb. 24, 2023, as part of Black History Month.
The showcase will center on a performance on March 18, 1990, featuring Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle during which “many wondered if the two singers would compete or join forces and sing together.” The documentary highlights the behind-the-scenes preparations for the big event. (Iconic contralto Marian Anderson was among those in the audience). The performance was subsequently recorded and released with Express noting that “The overtones of suffering and joy are made beautifully evident by these two great artists in what was clearly a magical evening.”
Audiences will get some commentary via interviews with soprano Angel Blue, author and playwright Darryl Pinckney, arranger and composer Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Harlem Gospel Singers’ founder Queen Esther Marrow, Fisk Jubilee Singers Musical Director Paul T. Kwami, and jazz and opera singer Jocelyn B. Smith, among others.
Audiences will also be able to watch the showcase via PBS’ official website and the PBS app.