To celebrate Black History Month, Juno-award winner and Grammy-nominated soprano extraordinaire, Measha Brueggergosman, stars in the world premiere broadcast of Songs of Freedom on Vision TV on February 2 at 10 p.m.
In addition to the 90-minute film, Vision TV will broadcast the premieres of 30-minute Songs of Freedom episodes featuring additional footage of Brueggergosman’s performances every Friday in February at 10 p.m.
For the first time, she performs an intensely powerful and spiritual collection of 18 “Freedom Songs”, including “Go Down Moses”, “Wade in the Water”, “This Little Light of Mine”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Amazing Grace”.
The product of African-Americans who escaped slavery during the American Revolution, New Brunswick-born Brueggergosman said selecting the 18 songs was not easy.
“With my music director Aaron Davis, we were working from a list of songs that have been part of my family’s genealogical history,” she told Share from Spain. “It was such a blessing and privilege to get to experience songs with different interpretations and cultures. I really respect the film director for taking that approach.”
The Songs of Freedom score features the Nova Scotia Mass Choir conducted by Marko Simmonds, the Ebenezer Choir of Cameroon and that African country’s charismatic vocalist, Sanzy Viany.
“It’s a beautiful choir with a beautiful sound and really hardworking singers and Sanzy is such a firecracker and incredible musician,” said Brueggergosman. “I learned a lot from her. She’s very intense just like me. I was really privileged to collaborate with them.”
A University of Toronto music graduate who spent five years in Germany where she pursued a Master’s degree, Brueggergosman visited Cameroon last year for the first time to reconnect with her ancestors.
“Anytime you can understand the context of your family’s history, that’s extremely powerful,” she said. “What struck me was the foregone conclusion that I was returning home and not visiting and the welcome I received was very warm and unconditional. I have been to several African countries before and I am always struck by the respect, love and hospitality I am shown.”
Exclusively for online viewing, four music performances were recorded live on location in Cameroon, Nova Scotia and Ontario using a 360 degree spherical camera. The user-controlled technology allows the audience to watch Brueggergosman’s performance from every point of view as if they were actually there standing beside her. The app is available on iTunes.
Born 37 years ago, Brueggergosman started singing in the local Baptist church at a young age and began voice and piano lessons at age seven.
She has given a royal command performance for Queen Elizabeth II and performed for many dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, Nelson Mandela and former Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean.
Six years ago, the award-winning opera singer underwent open-heart surgery to repair an aortic tear. Initially diagnosed with high blood pressure after feeling numbness in her fingers, Brueggergosman was rushed to hospital the next day after complaining of severe chest pains.
She comes from a family with a history of cardiovascular disease. Her father has undergone quadruple bypass and his parents succumbed to heart disease.
Brueggergosman, who performed the Olympic hymn at the 2010 Winter Games opening ceremony, has also had to contend with a marital separation and the loss of twins in pregnancy. Reconciled with her Swiss-born husband, who she met in high school in New Brunswick when he was an exchange student, she gave birth to a son in August 2012.