Steal Away Home CD

Produced by Sam Weedman & Joni Bishop / Arranged by Joni Bishop / STEAL AWAY HOME is a unique & personal musical journey through traditional spirituals,treasured hymns & favorite gospel songs by singer-songwriter-visual artist Joni Bishop. Recorded in Nashville & New Orleans over the course of more than 3 years, it contains 30 captivating folk arrangements of precious spirituals as well as selections of touching conversation & spoken word. The CD booklet showcases Joni's original folk-art portraits of many of the music legends of the past who have inspired her - Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt & others - and includes original photographs, brief history of the songs & the artist's personal comments.. Featuring Joni's unique acoustic vocal-guitar style backed by a group of immensely talented musicians & singers and featuring soaring response vocals by her friend & special guest Odessa Settles of The Princely Players, this is a truly one-of-a-kind inspirational CD - a great addition to any collection! 

TRACKS:  * I'll Fly Away * Go Down Moses * This Little Light * It's Gonna Be Alright * In The Garden * Oh, What a Beautiful City * My Lord, What A Morning * I Want To Live So God Can Use Me * Goin' Home * When The Saints * Here Am I, Lord, Send Me * Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen * Wade In The Water * Motherless Child * My God Is So High * What A Friend We Have In Jesus * When All God's Children Get Together * Since I Laid My Burden Down * Over My Head * Swing Low, Sweet Chariot * Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho * Didn't It Rain? * Balm In Gilead * Ol' Time Religion * Amazing Grace * Precious Lord, Take My Hand * Whole World In His Hands * Cello Interlude * Steal Away * Thou In Me

Excerpts from CD Booklet...

Wade In The Water (traditional) Referring to the story in The Old Testament about Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, one interpretation of this spiritual explains that in order to overcome, we are sometimes called upon to step into troubled waters - "God's gonna trouble the water". Other interpretations have mentioned that the song cautioned runaway slaves to travel by water via streams & creeks in order to throw off their pursuers...In this arrangement I used a unique instrument called a "piano-ette", first built by the Oscar Schmidt Co. around 1910. The piano-ette's percussive sound lent itself to the feel of this spiritual. After researching a little, I learned that a very similar instrument called the 'dulceola' was used in the 1920's by Washington Phillips, a Texas street-songer & evangelist who preached, played sacred music and made early recordings for Columbia Records. (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Steal Away (traditional) 'Steal Away' is one of the most beautiful spirituals of all and it touched my heart in a special way. During slavery, this song served not only to lift and soothe the spirit, but it had a dual meaning to those in bondage, and many times served as a direct signal to slaves embarking on the difficult and dangerous journey north to freedom along the Underground Railway....The song's melody reaches into my soul...and its lyric speaks so urgently to me about the importance of each moment on this, our brief journey ...."Steal Away, Steal Away Home...I ain't got long to stay here, Ain't got long to stay here" (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Amazing Grace (John Newton) Former slave-ship captain John Newton wrote this song after God's Grace intervened in his life and made him realize the cruelty of his actions as a dealer in human misery...Reformed, he abandoned his wretched work in the slave trade and later wrote Amazing Grace, a song that has been embraced by people everywhere and has become one of the most beloved hymns of all time....Many years ago, a very dear monk gave me the gift of a beautiful flute from India. 25 years later, I used it in the studio to record this version of Amazing Grace, and it became clear to me why God had given me the flute through my friend - Everything is connected! I will always treasure it. (.....Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

This Little Light of Mine (traditional) For years, I thought of 'This Little Light Of Mine' as a children's song, but I've come to realize the great truth behind the simple declaration - "Let it Shine, Let it shine, all through the night, I'm gonna let it shine". This beautiful spiritual reverberates hope and determination and perserverance - one small taper of light can sometimes ignite the whole world!...I've found my own interpretation of this sweet song in a slower rendition than is traditionally done...Either way, it's a beautiful song witha timeless message, (...Except from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

In The Garden (C. A. Miles) More than any other, this Christian hymn so beautifully describes the inner relationship with 'something greater' that I feel at quiet times - when I'm out in Nature, when I'm able to be by myself and go within. I was familiar with the melody of this song, but for a long time I didn't know the words, except for the one beautiful line, "He walks with me and He talks with me" . Those words alone seem to convey the song's essence. I chose to record it here as an instrumental. (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Go Down Moses (traditional) Many Negro spirituals deal with stories from he Old Testament. This well-known spiritual tells the story of the Hebrew's struggle in bondage and their flight out of Egypt. During slavery in America, the singing of this song, with its obvious parallels to the slaves' condition and powerfully direct lyric, 'let my people go', was banned on many plantations. (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

I'll Fly Away (Albert E. Brumley) I've always loved this gospel song....It was written in 1929 by Albert Brumley, who recalled that the song's image of the soul flying away like a bird came to him one day while he was working in a cotton field. "I'll Fly Away" has since become a traditional part of the Christian hymnal and has been sung in every genre from bluegrass & country to folk & blues. My favorite version is a 1960's recording by Carolina guitar legend Rev. Gary Davis, whose blues-inflected gospel style, sometimes called 'holy blues', take this song, and the listener with it, to the sky! (....Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Goin' Home (Largo Movement, New World symphony: composer Antonin Dvorak -lyrics adapted) Renowned Czech composer Antonin Dvorak spent several years in America in the late 1800's, where he heard the beautifully soulful melodies of African American spirituals. They touched him deeply and he incorporated what he heard into his New World Symphony. Dvorak believed that these melodies could be considered the true American folk music and that they were worthy of being the foundation for a national music upon which American classical composers could create great and lasting works. This hauntingly beautiful piece from Dvorak's Symphony, known as the Largo Movement, is one of my favorite classical pieces of all time....the English horn, a lower-register cousin of the oboe, takes the solo in this arrangement. I love its voice-like quality - like hearing someone sing an old spiritual. (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (traditional) John Wesley Work, in his early book "Folk Song Of The American Negro", traced the origin of this spiritual. It's a touching story: The song was born in the heart of Miss Sarah Hannah Sheppard, a slave woman in Tennessee, who, rather than see her child taken into bondage, had decided to throw herself and her baby into the Cumberland River; she was stopped by an old woman who told her that God had great things planned for this child, that she was destined to stand before Kings and Queens! The mother abandoned her desperate plan...and the child, Miss Ella Sheppard, later became one of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers at Nashville's Fisk University, founded in 1866 - notably, one of the first schools for freedmen established after the Civil War. The Jubilee Singers, who set out in 1871 to raise money for the school's survival by giving concerts, first introduced the public to the beautiful, poignant spirituals, or 'cabin songs', which before then had never been heard outside the slave community. Everywhere, audiences were moved to tears by the depth and beauty of these timeless songs of the spirit. The Fisk Jubilee Singers performed before Queen Victoria on their European tour in 1873 - a prophesy fulfilled! (...Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

He's Got the Whole World In His Hands (traditional) I remember singing this spiritual as a child, when I always had fun making up words to include everything and everyone imaginable! I've sung it many tmes over the years for senior citizens and kindergarden children alike and it remains one of my favorite songs because it so beautifully embraces all of us - you & me, brother & sister - all creation, equally held and protected in the palms of God's Great Loving Hands...(Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Motherless Child (traditional) What it feels like to be alone, afraid, without a friend, a long way from safety, ' motherless' - is universal. Yet there's hardly ever been a song of sorrow more moving than this one, born during the darkness of slavery, when mothers were torn from their children, families pulled apart. As in the Blues music that evolved later, the moaning, the crying out in sorrow, the very singing, is what sometimes offers the heart hope and release. (..Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)

Down by the Riverside (traditional) - medley with 'Here Am I, Lord, Send Me - "Who will bear the sheaths away? Here am I, Lord, send me!" - The more I played this song the more I fell in love with its message...and the more other melodies kept coming into my head. Eventually, Down By The Riverside crept into this arangement too, and a joyful '2nd Line' horn section! In the New Orleans tradition, brass bands often accompanied funeral processions, playing slow hymns on the way to the cemetery. On the way back, the band played joyful, upbeat spirituals. This '2nd Line' parade would wind through the neighborhoods and everyone along the way joined in the celebration of a soul gone Home.. (..Exerpt from CD booklet / c 2004 Polestar Productions)