On Saturday, September 30th, I had the thrill of seeing a true opera superstar at the Auditorium, here in Chicago. The five-time Grammy Award winner, Kathleen Battle has sung all of the great Operas and reigned supreme at the Metropolitan Opera House, in the 80’s and early 90’s. Reviewers have long rhapsodized about the quality of her voice. One of opera’s premier lyric and coloratura sopranos, the Washington Post said of Battle “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world”; from The New York Times “cream from a miraculous, bottomless pitcher”.
Singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Her current tour is called Kathleen Battle – Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey While not an opera program, per se, Battle’s training and background come through. Presented recital style with only a single piano for accompaniment and backed by a 30 voice chorus including The Chicago Freedom Singers. The show also incorporates the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III and Jackie Taylor as Narrators who educate the audience about the history of the Underground Railroad. There are quotes from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who both used the Underground Railroad to escape to their own freedom and in the case of Tubman, she then helped many other slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Kathleen Battle’s stage presence was amazing and her voice as beautiful and pure as ever it was, considering she is now in her late 60’s, that’s impressive. She also showed great generosity in giving showcasing solos to several of the other singers. The repertoire contained such well known gems as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, “All Night, All Day” and “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah (Come Out the Wilderness)”. The presentation was interesting and uplifting, leaving one with the sense of not only having enjoyed an evening of beautiful and unique music, but of also having learned a great deal.
I for one, look forward to future concerts presented by Ms. Battle and having the opportunity to enjoy her beautiful voice once again.
I had always thought it would be exciting to live in a swing state, to have the whole country look to your state on the night of the election. I thought it would thrilling to know that your vote, every vote, matters in this race. But what I learned in this election is that it isn’t fun to be from a swing state. It’s actually the most terrifying thing in the world.
I grew up in Michigan, a state that in my memory has always voted blue. I thought I knew my state. I thought that there was no way a Republican candidate could win our 16 electoral votes. I laughed at anyone who predicted that Michigan would be a state to watch on election night. But as I write this, President-elect Donald Trump has just been declared the winner of our state. A whole 20 days after election night, the votes have finally been counted.
I view my state differently now. I question who I know that might have voted for Donald Trump. I wonder what drew so many people, people who had similar experiences to me, to this candidate. My whole life, I’ve always seen Republican states as a faraway places; but now I am living in one. It’s a fact I couldn’t believe on election night. As the numbers came in, I kept telling myself, “They haven’t counted Wayne county, Washtenaw county is only 30% in, and Oakland county is always late.” Michigan wasn’t officially declared on November 8th, so I was able to convince myself that Trump didn’t win my home state. But he did. On November 28th, Donald Trump was declared the winner of Michigan with a 10,704 vote margin.
Now I know my wishes for being in a swing state were misguided. There is nothing exciting about living in uncertainty. There is no glamour in not knowing what your next-door neighbor is truly thinking. I would gladly give up any excitement of being in a swing state to get my boring true-blue state back.
Shelia Simon is a lawyer, a teacher and mother. She is also the second highest executive officer in Illinois. Lt Governor Sheila Simon joined us to talk about community colleges, student aid and service to community.