Zachary James Releases Classical Vocal Album ‘Song of Myself’

By Afton Wooten

Grammy award-winning artist Zachary James released his first full-length classical vocal album, “Song of Myself” on Sept. 7.

“Song of Myself” is James’ classical composition debut. The song cycle was born from the words of Whitman’s iconic work of the same title. There is additional music by cellist Wick Simmons, percussionist Ariel Campos, and guitarist Frederick Poholek.

When writing James embarked on a discovery of the human experience and the interconnectedness of all beings. His work is scored for bass-baritone, cello, guitar, percussion and untuned piano. The 12 track, 64 minute album is intended to be listened to as a full performance. The album cover features the photography of renowned Mexican fashion photographer Alex Salinas.

In a press release James expressed his excitement by saying, “Creating ‘Song of Myself’ has been a deeply personal and transformative experience artistically, emotionally and spiritually. I recorded all the vocals in one day, in an almost Herculean effort, in a completely dark orchestral recording studio at the Colorado Symphony and it was an experience I will never forget. I am thrilled to share this album with the world. It was a distinct honor to collaborate with Ariel, Wick and my father. Our collaboration was pure and openhearted and we hope to stir the souls of our listeners and give contemporary art song a nudge in a new direction. While there are countless musical settings of Whitmans’s words I wanted to create a song cycle that specifically focused on the human experience of feeling alone in oneself and finding love for oneself through self-acceptance and celebration. There are also overarching themes of what it is to be queer. Whitman’s own experience as a gay man in a time when it was not socially acceptable is revelatory to explore when we are still in a battle for equal rights and inclusion in society over a hundred years later. Earlier this week I proposed to my boyfriend, now fiancé. There was a beautiful write-up in his hometown paper covering our engagement. It felt wonderful to receive such attention publicly as a gay couple in a small town Texas newspaper yet the comments of many readers reminded me that to be in a same sex relationship still can invite ridicule and hate. It drew a parallel to the simultaneous celebration and censorship of Whitman and reminded me why I wanted to create this work.”

“Song of Myself” is available now worldwide on all streaming platforms.


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