VIENNA – “Harriet Tubman and the Songs of Freedom” will be performed by the Marcus Shelby Quartet on May 20 at 7 p.m. at Layton’s Chance Winery – just a few miles from where Tubman once lived. This soul-stirring show brings Harriet Tubman’s story to life with inspiration from spirituals, freedom songs, and the blues.
The show is happening to celebrate the recent opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in nearby Church Creek.
Tickets are available at the door for $10 per person.
Marcus Shelby has been fascinated by Harriet Tubman since his mother gave him a book about her in grade school. After learning that Harriet Tubman used music in her Underground Railroad missions to freedom, he was inspired to compose music sharing Tubman’s story.
His quartet also performed to rave reviews in Cambridge in 2013 during the Harriet Tubman Centennial. For the 2017 performance, the quartet features Tiffany Austin on vocals, Gaea Schell on piano, Tim Angulo on drums, and Marcus Shelby on bass/speaker.
“I hope the audience will feel the power of how music can express the life and history of a great American hero Harriet Tubman,” said Mr. Shelby, who lives in San Francisco, where his music has earned all kinds of awards. “She used the folk form of all American music (the blues) to conduct her escapes, which included field cries, blues hollers, work songs, and spirituals.”
Dana Paterra, manager of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, where the new Tubman Visitor Center is located, sees this concert as a perfect complement to local efforts to share Tubman’s story. “To have Marcus Shelby come here and perform these original songs about Harriet Tubman’s life in the area where she lived — it makes for some powerful music,” she said. “I think people will be blown away by the performance.”
Jennifer Layton, owner and general manager of Layton’s Chance Winery where the concert will take place, is looking forward to the show. “We’re thrilled to help celebrate a national hero from Dorchester County with music and wine,” she said. “We’re also proud to have just released our latest wine called FREEDOM, which is an off-dry red wine made from grapes that were native to the area in Tubman’s era.”
Layton’s Chance Winery is located at 4225 New Bridge Road in Vienna.
In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High St. in Cambridge. Watch for updates at HarrietTubmanByway.org or the Harriet Tubman Byway Facebook or Twitter page.
The event is sponsored by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and proceeds benefit the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. Find out more at HarrietTubmanByway.org.