For Love Of Liberty: The Story Of America's Black Patriots Soundtrack Announced

When the film For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots premiered on PBS stations in February of this year, it won praise for its comprehensive depiction of the heroic actions of black men and women in the nation's armed services. The documentary, hosted by Halle Berry and narrated by Avery Brooks, includes an introduction by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It also turned heads for the impressive music that accompanied its visual storytelling, a combination of songs and original underscoring for voiceover readings by a veritable who's who of entertainment figures, among them Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, Alan Rickman, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Donald Sutherland and Louis Gossett, Jr.

On September 28, independent Blix Street Records, best known for its catalogues of recordings by singers Eva Cassidy and Mary Black, will issue the award-winning original soundtrack to Frank Martin's acclaimed documentary, FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S BLACK PATRIOTS. The soundtrack, winner of the 2010 Gold Medal for Excellence in Film Music at the Park City Music and Film Festival, presents 17 musical pieces taken from the score, deftly combining instrumental passages with vintage and contemporary vocal performances.

Among the soundtrack's highlights are the opener, "The Minstrel Boy," on which Santana vocalist Alex Ligertwood and the Andrae Crouch Choir transform the classic Celtic ballad into a powerful ensemble piece; Billie Holiday's original "Strange Fruit"; rising opera star Amber Mercomes' "Pie Jesu" (from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem") and Oren Waters' (of the famed singing Waters family) striking update of the classic "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Assembling the album from a four-hour documentary was something of a labor of love for all parties involved, especially Blix Street Records founder Bill Straw, who shares production credits with Martin, score composer Lawrence Brown and song-producer Steve Goldstein. Straw first learned of the project from Martin three years ago when the film was far from complete (it was10 years in the making), and says he was "immediately attracted the subject matter, something that had to be done."

"The first challenge in creating a soundtrack album was to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of musical ingredients from the largest array of brilliant singers, composers, arrangers, musicians and producers I have ever encountered on a single project," says Straw. His stated goal for the album was to "create and sustain a mood that worked as a stand-alone listening experience that people would listen to over and over." To that end, he compiled a program that both bears repeat plays and sequentially recounts the story of the Black soldiers' experiences through the various wars-from the Revolution through Vietnam and Iraq-just as the full-length documentary does. While Lawrence Brown's emotional score can be heard throughout the entire film, it is his "Give Me Liberty," symbolizing the Revolutionary War, "Buffalo Soldiers" and "Desperate Times" pieces that are highlighted on the soundtrack. All three pieces feature vocals by the Waters family-Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Luther Waters and Oren Waters-whose father, First Lieutenant Luther N. Waters, is missing in action in Korea. Brown also collaborated with guitarist Tom Bocci in creating the Viet Nam era piece, "Mo Nam Blues."

Bookending Billie Holiday's classic "Strange Fruit" with Lawrence Brown's mournful "Desperate Times" score material emotionally broadens the song's stark "lynching" images to include the countless lesser human rights violations Black patriots overcame For Love of Liberty. Layering a reprise of the poignant WWI segment score piece "Bella Wood" under the ending of Oren Waters' "I'll Be Home for Christmas" under-scores a hopeful WWII moment with the grim reality of history repeating itself. "Bella Wood" was composed and arranged by Alan Lindgren, who also contributed the "Battle Hymn," "Chappie's Flight" and the closing "For Love of Liberty" score pieces, the latter two further showcasing vocals by The Waters. Composer John William Doryk is represented by the sorrowful "Vale of Slavery" (punctuated dramatically by the vocal laments of Big Jim Adams) and the World War II themed "Sea Duty."

Track Listing:

Universal Soldier
1. Minstrel Boy (3:48)

2. Give Me Liberty (1:45)

Civil War
3. Vale Of Slavery (2:22)
4. Was My Brother In The Battle (3:20)
5. Battle Hymn (1:06)

Buffalo Soldiers
6. Buffalo Soldiers (2:34)

Over There
7. Bella Wood (1:49)
8. We'll Meet Again (2:54)

Over Here
9. Desperate Times/Strange Fruit (3:23)
10. Desperate Times - Part Ii (:29)

11. Sea Duty (1:46)
12. I'll Be Home For Christmas/Bella Wood
Reprise (3:41)

13. O Holy Night (4:59)
14. Chappie's Flight (2:17)

Viet Nam
15. Mo Nam Blues (1:31)
16. Pie Jesu (3:30)

17. For Love Of Liberty (1:07)

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