Béla Fleck and Jamie Barton In Song for San Francisco Opera

Béla Fleck is certainly in the news this week. A few days ago we had the first music from his upcoming all star album, My Bluegrass Heart, and now we can share a video he created with Jamie Barton for the San Francisco Opera and their In Song series.

Of course, Mr. Fleck needs no introduction to readers of Bluegrass Today, after four and a half decades playing his banjo in bluegrass, jazz, pop, classical, and world music circles. It feels safe to say that no one since Earl Scruggs has highlighted the banjo before more people all over the world.

Jamie is a heralded operatic performer, a mezzo-soprano, who at age 40, has already sung many of the leading roles in major operas, with her first crack at Carmen next month at the Chicago Opera Theater. The reviews and notices for her performances never fail to include raves about the strength, power, and agility of her voice.

But like another opera singer we have featured several times, Sara Hershkowitz, Barton also has a fondness for traditional Appalachian music, growing up in the northwestern Georgia foothills where the music is strong.

So for her In Song video for San Francisco Opera, she and Béla work through a couple of pieces – one each from traditional string music and opera – take us all for a visit back home with her dad, and shares how she fell in love with bluegrass and old time before ever hearing classical music.

Jamie’s ease and facility with both styles is readily apparent, and should please admirers of both types of music. You can watch their full 18 minute video presentation below.

Following the release of this special video collaboration last week, Béla and Jamie sat down with director Elena Park for a lengthy conversation about the In Song project, and about what the two artists have in common. Park also fits in footage captured while the two artists were in rehearsal.

Well done all!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.