Henry Pleas, tenor
Rev. Sylvia Pleas, writer and storyteller
Chris Garofalo, piano
â€œDeep River: A Spiritual Journey ia s performance piece that has touched thousands of people. Originally written as a lesson to teach a young African-American boy the importance of writing his name proudly, audiences have marveled at the prophetic direction that this story has taken.
Tenor, Henry Pleas, brings to life the voice of the ancestral character, as narration by the author tells the story of Henry’s final victory in attaining God’s promise of freedom. The African-American spiritual sits at the pinnacle of American artistic expression. This genre of music was born out of this country’s shameful enslavement of African people. Along with being an expression of their belief in God, spirituals were also a metaphor for the slaves’ desire for physical freedom. This musical heritage symbolizes the hopes, fears, and strengths of a proud race.
Sylvia Pleas was a stay-at-home mom when she wrote the story upon which this recording is based. Her son Henry’s teachers had informed the young mother that her little boy consistently forgot to write his name on his school assignments. Sylvia was aware how her ancestors had struggled to gain the simple freedom of reading and writing. She sought a way to help her son understand his heritage and the importance of the ability to write his name proudly. One evening, Sylvia was inspired as she listened to a Marian Anderson recording of the spiritual Deep River. At that moment, the story contained on this recording was born. Some nights later she played the recording for her son and told him the story.
Neither of their lives has been the same since.â€
from the description of the CD, â€œDeep River: A Spiritual Journey”