Michael Daugherty, Dogs of Desire release Tribute to Woody Guthrie

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Naxos Records recently released “This Land Sings: Inspired by the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie,” the world-premiere recording of multi-Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty’s musical tribute to the singer-songwriter and political activist Woody Guthrie.

The album features performances by the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble Dogs of Desire led by Grammy Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller, with vocal soloists, soprano Annika Socolofsky and baritone John Daugherty. For this release, Daugherty collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producer Silas Brown, to create a recording which re-creates a vintage Capital Records 1950s soundscape.

“Traveling America from coast to coast with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, Woody Guthrie performed folk songs of love, wandering and social justice, including his famous anthem ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ at Workers Union gatherings, on radio stations and street corners, and in farm fields and concert halls during the Great Depression and the Second World War,” Daugherty wrote in his introduction to the album.

To prepare for his musical tribute to this “Dust Bowl troubadour,” Daugherty drove for several weeks along the dusty backroads of Oklahoma and Texas where Guthrie once roamed, while listening to just about everything the singer-songwriter recorded. The composer also spent time at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, researching his life and wide-ranging artistic output.

After returning to his studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Daugherty began to compose original songs and instrumental interludes inspired both by Guthrie and his recent travels through Oklahoma and Texas. He eventually structured the work into seventeen vocal and instrumental numbers.

The music I composed gives [a] haunting expression, ironic wit and contemporary relevance to the political, social and environmental themes from Woody Guthrie’s era,” Daugherty said.

To purchase the album, visit naxos.com.

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