Ep. #85 Featuring a Quilt of Two Titans
Connecting the Soul of Musical Theater
Bill Withers was a titan of Soul. Stephen Sondheim holds the same status in the world of Musical Theater. Though these two genres might live in different refractions of the musical spectrum, they hold a connection— both exemplify an artistic fusion.
Soul surfaced in the late 50s with artists like Sam Cooke. Blending gospel church roots with secular rhythm and blues, a distinctively African American sound was formed, upon which soul artists like Bill Withers built.
Though some version of what we know as Musical Theater was present even in ancient times, it took the shape we recognize today in the mid-1800s. Musical theater, too, is a blend of artistic expressions—dance, music, theater—generating a new whole. While Sondheim’s mentor Oscar Hammerstein III was instrumental in bringing musical theater to peak popularity in the early 20th century, it is Sondheim himself who has taken the art form to unprecedented heights.
Special thanks to artists Kenton Chen, Ginger Murphy, Josh Nelson, and Ashley Faatoalia for these outstanding performances.