The Great Debaters

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
In the Denzel Washington-directed film The Great Debaters, based on a true story, Washington plays teacher and poet Melvin B. Tolson, who led an African-American college debating team during the racially charged 1930s to such success that it was able to compete against all odds with leading white teams at Harvard. For the film, Washington reportedly combed through more than a thousand pre-1935 songs that he felt would accurately reflect the time period as experienced by the students and educators on whom the film is based. Rather than use original period recordings, the soundtrack (except for a couple of bonus tracks by Art Tatum and Marian Anderson) employs contemporary ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
In the Denzel Washington-directed film The Great Debaters, based on a true story, Washington plays teacher and poet Melvin B. Tolson, who led an African-American college debating team during the racially charged 1930s to such success that it was able to compete against all odds with leading white teams at Harvard. For the film, Washington reportedly combed through more than a thousand pre-1935 songs that he felt would accurately reflect the time period as experienced by the students and educators on whom the film is based. Rather than use original period recordings, the soundtrack (except for a couple of bonus tracks by Art Tatum and Marian Anderson) employs contemporary artists such as Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharon Jones, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who have their feet firmly planted in the legacy of African-American musical history and could deliver performances -- shifting from gospel to blues and jazz to a more rural-based old-timey sound -- that would work within the context of the film yet still appeal to modern audiences. The soundtrack doesn't attempt to replicate the past but rather to absorb it and regenerate the music as something alive in today's world. It largely works, particularly on the tracks featuring Hart and the Chocolate Drops, a modern acoustic string band in the tradition of African-American fiddle and banjo groups of the era of the film's focus. Jones, however, stupendous though she is, is more of a '60s soul singer at heart, and her propulsive vocals on tracks like "Wild About That Thing" and "It's Tight Like That," while intended to reflect the bawdy barrelhouse singers of the pre-WWII South, leave no doubt that they are something of a more recent vintage. Her version of the spiritual "We Shall Not Be Moved," with Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith, owes more to electricity than a recording of the '30s would or could. Nonetheless, Great Debaters offers a solid set of performances by a smartly chosen crew, and it succeeds at piquing interest in the film.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/11/2007
  • Label: Atlantic Mod Afw
  • UPC: 075678995606
  • Catalog Number: 396860
  • Sales rank: 386,667

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 My Soul Is a Witness - Sharon Jones (7:45)
  2. 2 That's What My Baby Likes - Sharon Jones (3:02)
  3. 3 I've Got Blood in My Eyes for You - The Carolina Chocolate Drops (3:34)
  4. 4 Step It Up & Go - Alvin Youngblood Hart (2:20)
  5. 5 It's Tight Like That - Sharon Jones (3:56)
  6. 6 Busy Bootin' - The Carolina Chocolate Drops (2:43)
  7. 7 City of Refuge - The Carolina Chocolate Drops (2:42)
  8. 8 Two Wings - Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith (4:16)
  9. 9 Delta Serenade - The Sultans of Swing (3:16)
  10. 10 Rock N' Rye - The Sultans of Swing (3:50)
  11. 11 Wild About That Thing - Sharon Jones (3:44)
  12. 12 Nobody's Fault But Mine - The Carolina Chocolate Drops (4:01)
  13. 13 How Long Before I Change My Clothes - Alvin Youngblood Hart (5:04)
  14. 14 We Shall Not Be Moved - Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith (6:03)
  15. 15 Up Above My Head - Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith (6:29)
  16. 16 The Shout - Art Tatum (2:47)
  17. 17 Begrüssung - Marian Anderson (3:18)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
James Newton Howard Primary Artist
Dennis Irwin Bass
Daniel Block Reeds
Jay Brandford Reeds
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Musician
Jackie Johnson Vocals, Background Vocals
Bob Millikan Trumpet
Harry Peel Djembe, Musician
Kevin Ricard Percussion, Washboard, Hand Clapping, Cajon, Musician
Lester Snell Organ, Piano, Musician
Alvin Youngblood Hart Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Vocals, Guitar (Resonator)
Sharon Jones Vocals, Background Vocals
Jimmy Madison Drums
David Berger Conductor
Wayne Goodman Trombone
Matt Hong Reeds
Carl Maraghi Reeds
Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices of Faith Choir, Chorus
Brian Pareschi Trumpet
Ryan Keberle Trombone
Steve Potts Drums, Musician
Technical Credits
Kokomo Arnold Composer
Lucille Bogan Composer
Blind Willie Johnson Composer
Art Tatum Composer
Irving Mills Composer
Jimmy Mundy Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
David Huntsinger Arranger
Manny Kurtz Composer
Larry Paxton Arranger
Jeff Powell Engineer
Roger Rhodes Engineer
Hudson Whittaker Composer
Kris Wilkinson Arranger
Alan Yoshida Mastering
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey Composer
G. Marq Roswell Arranger, Producer
Alvin Youngblood Hart Arranger
Sharon Jones Arranger
David Berger Arranger, Producer
Bob Weinstein Executive Soundtrack Producer
Harvey Weinstein Executive Soundtrack Producer
Scott Barretta Liner Notes, Ethno-Musicologist
Judy Miller Media Consultant
Bonnie Huntsinger Arranger
Traditional Composer
James Lopez Marketing
Oscar Zambrano Engineer
Sheila Richman Media Consultant
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