Having raised myself a cross-cultural spiritualist, I can’t say “Amazing Grace” was part of my background. But I am familiar with the story of it, which is amazing unto itself: The captain of a slaving ship has a spiritual experience so strong that it turned him into an abolitionist. Wintley Phipps is obviously one of a rare breed (not so rare in this amazing generation, perhaps) who can reinterpret a nation’s history in a manner that can bring black and white together (who might he turn out to be, I wonder?). So, though no particular fan of “Amazing Grace,” I’m clear that Wintley Phipps has a mission in this coming period and that music can bring us all together. Thanks to Bracha.
At Carnegie Hall, gospel singer Wintley Phipps delivers perhaps the most powerful rendition of Amazing Grace ever recorded. He says, “A lot of people don’t realize that just about all Negro spirituals are written on the black notes of the piano. Probably the most famous on this slave scale was written by John Newton, who used to be the captain of a slave ship, and many believe he heard this melody that sounds very much like a West African sorrow chant. And it has a haunting, haunting plaintive quality to it that reaches past your arrogance, past your pride, and it speaks to that part of you that’s in bondage. And we feel it. We feel it. It’s just one of the most amazing melodies in all of human history.” After sharing the noteworthy history of the song, Mr. Phipps delivers a stirring performance that brings the audience to its feet!