top of page

Musical Stories

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon
  • Black Spotify Icon

BORN FREE | Complete Song Cycle

Sheet Music
In stock
Product Details

BORN FREE (Sorrow Home, Lineage, The Struggle Staggers Us, and Southern Song) for voice (soprano), violin and piano. Music by Edward W. Hardy, lyrics by Margaret Walker, commissioned by Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

"I am honored to have composed this piece entitled BORN FREE for Miss Tiffany Townsend and premiere it here at Wolf Trap Opera. This piece is my reaction to Miss Margaret Walker's poetry. While reading her works repeatedly, I experienced many emotions, saw vivid imagery, and tried to capture all those themes and create a musical portrait. I hope this piece takes you on a personal journey."

World Premiere Performers: Tiffany Townsend (soprano), Alex Munger (piano), Edward W. Hardy (violin)

Recorded live on July 1, 2022

Poems (lyrics):

I. Sorrow Home

My roots are deep in southern life; deeper than John Brown or Nat Turner or Robert Lee. I was sired and weaned in a tropic world. The palm tree and banana leaf, mango and coconut, breadfruit and rubber trees know me.

Warm skies and gulf blue streams are in my blood. I belong with the smell of fresh pine, with the trail of coon, and the spring growth of wild onion.

I am no hothouse bulb to be reared in steam-heated flats with the music of El and subway in my ears, walled in by steel and wood and brick far from the sky.

I want the cotton fields, tobacco and the cane. I want to walk along with sacks of seed to drop in fallow ground. Restless music is in my heart and I am eager to be gone.

O Southland, sorrow home, melody beating in my bone and blood! How long will the Klan of hate, the hounds and the chain gangs keep me from my own?

II. Lineage

My grandmothers were strong.

They followed plows and bent to toil.

They moved through fields sowing seed.

They touched earth and grain grew.

They were full of sturdiness and singing.

My grandmothers were strong.

My grandmothers are full of memories

Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay

With veins rolling roughly over quick hands

They have many clean words to say.

My grandmothers were strong.

Why am I not as they?

III. The Struggle Staggers Us

Our birth and death are easy hours, like sleep

and food and drink. The struggle staggers us

for bread, for pride, for simple dignity.

And this is more than fighting to exist;

more than revolt and war and human odds.

There is a journey from the me to you.

There is a journey from the you to me.

A union of the two strange worlds must be.

Ours is a struggle from a too-warm bed;

too cluttered with a patience full of sleep.

Out of this blackness we must struggle forth;

from want of bread, of pride, of dignity.

Struggle between the morning and the night.

This marks our years; this settles, too, our plight.

IV. Southern Song

I want my body bathed again by southern suns, my soul reclaimed again from southern land. I want to rest again in southern fields, in grass and hay and clover bloom; to lay my hand again upon the clay baked by a southern sun, to touch the rain-soaked earth and smell the smell of soil.

I want my rest unbroken in the fields of southern earth; freedom to watch the corn wave silver in the sun and mark the splashing of a brook, a pond with ducks and frogs and count the clouds.

I want no mobs to wrench me from my southern rest; no forms to take me in the night and burn my shack and make for me a nightmare full of oil and flame.

I want my careless song to strike no minor key; no fiend to stand between my body's southern song—the fusion of the South, my body's song and me.

Title(s): BORN FREE (Sheet Music): Sorrow Home, Lineage, The Struggle Staggers Us, and Southern Song
Edward W. Hardy
Genre: Contemporary Classical Music (multi-genre influenced)
ISMN: 979-0-58068-013-6
Instruments: Voice (soprano), Violin, Piano
Format: PDF File
Number of Pages: 59
Commissioned work: Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts / Wolf Trap Opera
Exclusive Publisher: Edward W. Hardy Publishing

Save this product for later
bottom of page