The Road To Freedom

by Teresa Jennings

In honor of African American History Month, or any time at all, this original gospel rock tune would be a wonderful performance piece for your older students. For younger students, using only the unison melody will work very nicely, too. The song includes three parts and a featured soloist - all optional, of course.

We have also included two versions of this song on the recording - a short version and a long version. The short version follows the music as written. The long version extends the music by adding an eight measure a cappella phrase. To do this, after the 4th ending, just sing the chorus at 22 through 29, then repeat back to 22 and go to the end. There are double asterisks at both points on the piano/vocal part for quick reference. (The pick-ups into the solo descant would occur just before the second time at measure 22 instead of the first.) Our recording of this extended version is wonderful. If you have students who enjoy a challenge, once they hear this, they will be compelled to perform it this way!

Both performances on the recording follow all of the suggestions in the music. The song starts with just a soloist and slowly builds, adding unison melody, then pieces of harmony as it goes along. It peaks when all parts plus solo descant are singing, then winds back down to the end. All of the entrances are marked on the music. You can perform it exactly this way, or you can have the various parts enter and exit as you wish. Have singers follow the dynamics carefully for musicality. Careful entrances and cut-offs will also enhance the performance. Conducting this one might be a good idea.

If you use a soloist, she can be the same person throughout, or you can alternate soloists. You could also pare the group down to use a trio or quartet if you have talented singers you'd like to feature. We have kept the solo voice out front for the entire piece, but you can bring her back into the group when everyone joins in. The solo descant that she sings at the end of the piece is suggested on the music, but she can ad lib all or part of it, as our soloist (Katy Gentry) did.

While we offer a very nice recorded accompaniment (piano, bass, drums, electric guitar and organ), if you have a sophisticated group, you might feel brave enough to perform this piece entirely a cappella. Junior high and high school singers in particular might really enjoy this. You might also consider doing the piece with just a trio, quartet, or other small ensemble.

You can add claps or snaps to the music at any point or points you like. Claps are more in keeping with the gospel style, of course. We added them to the choruses only.

One final note: If you are in a school where the use of the word "angels" is questionable, feel free to substitute the word "eagles" instead. Not as poetic, but it works.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.