Sometimes Happiness (Music Thoughts: Sing Happy, Audra McDonald)

1F7E3627-E21A-A3D6-A0F11B032816C389Sometimes, in the midst of doom and darkness, a voice comes out and makes you just jump up for joy. For me, that voice would only be Audra McDonald’s. It is one of the most expressive sopranos in creation, full of theatrical emotion. It just speaks to you, it soars you up, it emotes your deepest passion. It’s a voice that takes you to high heights, yet so relatable and down to earth. That voice is most evident in her newest recording, ‘Sing Happy.’ This recording is from a live concert earlier this year at New York’s Lincoln Center, with Gene Lewin on drums, Mark Vanderpoel on bass, Brian Hertz on piano.  And she has managed to compile some of the most perfect gems from musical theater, mostly from roles and shows she has appeared on:  there’s ‘Simple Little Things’ from ‘110 In The Shade,’ ‘Summertime’ from ‘Porgy & Bess,’ and her ‘Climb Every Mountain’ from her role in the live television broadcast of ‘The Sound Of Music.’ I love the smaller jewels, like the title track, which is from Kander & Ebb’s ‘Flora The Red Menace,’ and’Chain of Love’ from The Grass Harp’ (the latter is part of a section where she pays tribute to Barbara Cook)  The album can be a bit esoteric – it takes a listen or two to get into its groove, but this album is one of the finest voices singing some of the finest theater songs in creation, so in my book, it’s the textbook definition of Happiness.

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