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Because...Reginald Mobley

Le premier concert (en) poche de 2024 présente Reginald Mobley et Bapiste Trotignon dans un programme gospel enregistré pour le label Outhere sous le titre "Because". Dans cet entretien à PrestoMusic , il explique ce projet. Une interview menée par Katherine Cooper (en anglais)

Has this music always been a part of your life?

It seems like every Black queer countertenor has the same origin-story: we all sprung up in the South, and before our age was in double-digits we were singing gospel and spirituals in our local church choir. My mother and grandmother sang these songs around the house, so they were the soundtrack of my childhood - even the songs that began my understanding of music altogether. At four or five years old, you don’t really know about the history of spirituals and the pain and heartache and trauma of slavery: you just pick up these beautiful melodies and sense that they’re somehow a part of who you are. But those of us who grew up in the South are still dealing with the repercussions of slavery today - probably even more now than we have in the past thanks to a couple of recent elections…

And the power of this music has remained consistent: it serves the same role for me and my family facing issues in the South that it served 400 years ago. This music still has a practical purpose – it’s a device that helps us to find our way through life and its difficulties. It created a foundation for not just who I am as a musician, but who I am as a Black person, as a human being.

Did you always sing as a countertenor?

I was 17 when I started singing seriously, and at that point I was really a baritone with a high extension. It was only when I moved back to Florida a few years later that my voice-teacher heard me singing on the top line of a barbershop quartet and pulled me into his office to sing in that register. He told me that I was a countertenor and I remember saying ‘Oh, fantastic…but what’s a countertenor?!’ He gave me a pile of CDs to listen to over the weekend and said: ‘When you come back to your lesson next week, this is what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life’. And I haven’t proved him wrong yet!

How did you meet Baptiste Trotignon, your partner on Because?

American Originals was recorded in August 2020, and the foundations for Because were laid shortly afterwards when Didier Martin (the head of Alpha Classics) called me to discuss my first recording on the label. Initially I thought he was going to cancel because of COVID, but actually he said ‘I want to try partnering you with this jazz pianist that I know, just to see what would happen…’.

Baptiste comes to classical music as a jazz pianist, whereas I’m a classical artist who can also do jazz. And through working on this project we were able to come to a place where a modern white jazz pianist could explore the foundations of what he does and where it comes from. You see how slave songs and spirituals (which are truly 'Early Music') are also a well-spring of sources which has influenced so much music that we know now. It’s through jazz and spirituals and through people like Florence Price and Harry Burleigh that you see the significance of what was created in the American South: this thing that stupefied Dvořák and Delius and MacDowell, that Stravinsky fell in love with.

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