Kenneth Overton Leads On Site Opera’s Musical Tour through Black History with ‘The Road We Came’

By Logan Martell

Later this year, On Site Opera will take audiences on an immersive, musical tour through parts of New York City with “The Road We Came.”

Set to run from May 1 through July 31, 2021, the guided tour will feature filmed musical performances and spoken narration that shed light on the history of its locations through Harlem, Midtown, and Lower Manhattan, and the impact of Black culture thereon. The featured soloist of the work is baritone Kenneth Overton, joined by pianist Kevin J. Miller; award-winning biographer and Harlem historian Eric K. Washington will also deliver narration.

The Road We Came” includes texts and music from prominent Black artists such as Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Marvin Carter, Damien Geter, Dave Ragland, Dr. Lori Hicks, William Grant Still, Eubie Blaker, Will Marion Cook, James Davis Jr., Duke Ellington, J. Rosamund Johnson, Vincent Youmans, Terence Blanchard, Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Julia Johnson Davis, Florence Price, James Weldon Johnson, and John Wesley Work III.

“The African American presence is inextricably woven into the fabric of New York City’s storied past,” writes Washington, the project’s historian and narrator. “‘The Road We Came’ offers a novel way to interpolate many of the missing threads of the Black experience so long omitted. Walking tours are often a first sampling of a more complex history to be plumbed, and I’m hoping audiences walk away with a host of new names, places and events they just can’t get enough of.”

Baritone Kenneth Overton adds, “The project is quite a musical journey. With over 25 pieces we will be showcasing Negro spirituals, art songs and opera by some of the world’s greatest  Black composers. I’ve been able to discover and rediscover some incredible composers both living and dead, men and women, contemporary and classic.”