As a kind of musical icebreaker, WNYC's new Evening Music host Terrance McKnight
joins us to share four selections that illustrate different musical phases of his life -- one for each decade.First decade: Mahalia Jackson, "The Best of Mahalia Jackson. [Sony, 1995]
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in a religious family. My dad was a pastor and he wouldn’t allow us to listen or watch anything willy-nilly. That didn’t stop my cousins and me from emulating the Jackson Five, who were all the rage at the time. But for me it’s another Jackson that really demonstrated the power of music. Mahalia Jackson was the first queen of gospel and her voice was the soundtrack for hope -- at least in my household. I’ve seen grown-up people break down in tears listening to her. Now I’m that fully grown person, I still tear up too. This song is called "I Will Move On Up A Little Higher."Second decade: Oscar Peterson, "Tracks" [Polygram, 1970]
My next CD pick represents the second decade in my life, when I got into any pop record that my older siblings would bring home: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Kahn, Al Green. One day my brother came in with a dusty album of this older guy sitting grinning at a piano, looked pretty harmless. It was Oscar Peterson, from his 1970 self-titled album. Listening to him I realized I knew nothing about music, although I was playing trumpet in the high school orchestra and had three church jobs playing in a neighborhood band. Listen to this song, "Honeysuckle Rose," and you’ll know what I mean.Third decade: Saint Seans, Tchaikovsky Concertos. Andre Watts, piano. Yoel Levi conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra [Telarc, 1995]
In college, it was a lot easier getting dates if you said you were a pre-med major. So I majored in biology at Morehouse. But that is not where my heart was ... and I went back to music, joining the Morehouse College Glee Club. One year, one of my professors gave me a ticket to a concert and pianist Andre Watts was the soloist. He is African American and when I saw him at the stage I thought… wow, he looks a lot like me, and he is taking total ownership of this music, which implied I could too.Fourth Decade: Oswaldo Golijov, "Ainadamar," Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. [Deutsche Grammophone, 2006]
Now based in Boston, Osvaldo Golijov is Jewish and grew up in Argentina. So, his music reflects all the stuff that he’s interested in, which means a lot of cultures. I believe that is the direction that great music is heading: Inclusiveness, with many perspectives and voices treated as equals.