The Ones Ahead
Beverly Glenn-Copeland, a Canadian transgender composer who was formerly lauded for and recently re-released their moving Keyboard Fantasies, and who has worked extensively on music for children’s programming, including Sesame Street and Canada’s Mr. Dressup.
The multi-artist has just came out with their first album in twenty years, called The Ones Ahead. It is a beautifully composed look at life through the lens of older age: the spiritual potential of each human being from birth to death, the importance of our human family and ancestry, and a plea to consider the sacredness of life.
The album starts with a tribute to the African Diaspora, with a track predominantly drum-driven, called, “Africa Calling.” It is something that could soundtrack a film, sans vocals, but the rest of the album has Copeland’s deep, rich vocals and resonant lyrics throughout. Their experience composing and performing is felt in each song, and there is an impressive theatrical feel to many of the songs. Direct lyrics that yet contain their own spark of magic, it is a call for us to cherish our precious existence.
“Life is a part of love / The living art of love / Life is the heart of love / This I know.” “I give my days into its keeping / Though sometimes laughing / Sometimes weeping / For love’s the hand beneath its ebb and flow.” The album plays seemlessly from first track to last, which reintroduces African musical elements. But as unique and personal as the album is—as a queer person (see his tribute to his wife, “Harbour (Song for Elizabeth)”, as someone of African decent (see their song “No Other,” with its tribute to his inherited family), as a Canadian (see the song “People of the Loon”)—it is above all beautifully and triumphantly universal.
“Oh angel angel angel / Come to get me / don’t forget me / I still need your love,” he sings towards the end of the record, on the song “Lakeland Angel”. After all of these years away, Copeland has not forgotten the love that music and art can so powerfully share. And if someone is going to reappear on the scene, his resurgence is perfectly executed and timed. A consummate composer and performer, it is one of the best albums I’ve heard in years.
Order The Ones Ahead Beverly Glenn-Copeland HERE
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