Featuring Chicago tenor Michael Robinson
After the first performance of "Peace Oratorio" at the Théâtre Jemmapes in Paris in March 2009, the theater director Jean-Marie Guezala told me that he felt a big song was needed in Act 1 to rival the tunes in Act 2 (notably "Forever Free" and "Walking A Wounded"). So I went back to my well worn copy of Clayborne Carson's collection of the writings of Dr. King to look for inspiration (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. IPM in association with Abacus Publishers UK paperback edition 2007).
And there it was on pages 77 and 78 when Dr. King describes the long nights of living with the threat of being bombed by racists and how he prayed at his kitchen table for the spiritual strength to see the Montgomery boycott through. I used some of his prayer (along with my own words) because Dr. King's poetry is so simple yet so sturdy and strong. I came up with what I think is one of the finest songs I've ever written, "I'll Be There With You". I wrote the melody and the music for the fine high tenor and my friend Michael Robinson who I've worked with over the years here in Paris (and whose sister sat next to a certain Michelle Robinson (later Michelle Obama) in the sixth grade!). Although this performance is still not yet the final word on this song, I think the melody and the message of the chorus rings clear and true. I can only hope that Dr. King would have liked this rendering of his prayer and that perhaps one day this song will bring courage to someone who needs it, someone who's fighting the good fight for us all.
NARRATION : During the long and trying boycott with threats, arrests and even the bombing of his home, Martin stood firm with his people. On November 13th, 1956, The United States Supreme Court affirmed a decision of a special three-judge U.S. District Court in declaring Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregation on buses unconstitutional. A mighty blow to segregation had been struck, and a great victory for justice and freedom had been achieved!
I’LL BE THERE WITH YOU In the night in the darkness, I begin to walk the floor, Those who have threatened me have threatened me once more, I’m filled with doubt there’s no way out, Like a voice in the wilderness, I cry out in the night, I’m here to take a stand, I’m here to do what’s right, I’m filled with fear, Oh Lord, are you near? And He said, “Stand up for Righteousness, Stand up for Truth, Stand up for Justice And Lo I’ll be with you, Have no fear of any man, No matter what they do, For when you fight for what is right I’ll be there with you.” With my eyes to the future I see the great unknown, My people need me to lead but I can’t face it alone, I look on high, I hear You cry CHORUS I’ve seen the lightning flash I’ve heard the thunder roar I’ve felt the waves that dash Upon the rocky shore I’ve had my iron will forged by the fire And now I say to one and all These words that Ye inspire DOUBLE CHORUS