Of the many tributes to Billie Holiday's 100th birthday today (April 7), the most compelling I've heard is Cassandra Wilson's Sony Legacy album Coming Forth By Day, a strange, atmospheric brew produced by Nick Launay (whose credits include music by Nick Cave and Arcade Fire) with shimmering string arrangements by the incomparable Van Dyke Parks.
"Now he belongs to the ages," was my first thought when I got the call that my friend Andraé Crouch had succumbed to the heart attack that felled him the week before. As grandiose as it may sound, he was a musical giant who may one day be fully appreciated in death in ways that sometimes eluded him in life.
On the surface, "A Change is Gonna Come" doesn't sound particularly challenging, especially in light of the defiant freedom songs that rocked the movement in 1964. It quickly became one of the anthems of the movement and music historian Dave Marsh said that "A Change is Gonna Come" "ranks with Martin Luther King's best speeches as a verbal encapsulation of the changes black perspective underwent in the Sixties."