The arts at their best do far more than simply entertain. Great music, provocative literature or a deeply moving film can inspire, motivate, or just provide refuge and solace during times of trouble. Last Tuesday our nation suffered a horrible tragedy perpetrated by cowards so infested with hatred and bigotry that they no longer deserve to be considered human beings. The grief and devastation they wrought in New York and Washington D.C. represented the face of evil. It is extremely hard to think about anything, especially the arts, after witnessing a catastrophe of this magnitude.
But Beautiful Stars(Dead Reckoning), a wonderful new gospel album by 73-year-old bass vocalist Isaac Freeman, plus an extraordinary recent book American Roots Music(Abrams) co-edited by Robert Santelli, Holly George-Warren and Jim Brown at least can bring some beauty, joy, and spiritual nourishment into our lives during those few moments not consumed with concern and worry about the future and what else might happen. Freeman, a current member of the Fairfield Four, learned to hit resounding notes and shout the Lord