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The music from The Great Debaters
5-Jan-2008 -



When the nation was in need, he inspired them to give us hope.

Music producer/supervisor G. Marq Roswell collaborated with director/star Denzel Washington to recreate the vintage musical style for the ‘30s era film, The Great Debaters. Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker lead an ensemble cast in a film inspired by a true story; The Great Debaters chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington), a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the deep south into a historically elite debate team Atlantic Records is releasing the soundtrack which is produced by G. Marq Roswell & Denzel Washington. The soundtrack features seventeen tracks, all hand picked and recorded exclusively for the film. Roswell and Washington assembled a peerless group of modern artists - including Sharon Jones, Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops - performing pre-1935 blues, folk, jazz, and gospel classics, recorded in Memphis, for the soundtrack. The original score is by James Newton Howard.

The Great Debaters includes pre-1935 songs that were hand picked by Washington for the various on camera scenes from over 1000 songs from the period. Roswell produced the songs at the world-renowned Ardent Studios in Memphis. The Great Debaters soundtrack centers around Grammy Award-winning blues singer/guitarist Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Brooklyn-based soul sensation Sharon Jones, who are featured both as solo performers and in collaboration with The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Among the album's many highlights is a version of the traditional "Step It Up and Go," performed by Hart and legendary Hi Rhythm Section guitarist Teenie Hodges (Al Green, Ann Peebles).

In addition, Hart unites with traditional African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, for a series of songs, including a stunning take on Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and the exciting Mississippi Sheiks hit, “Blood In My Eyes For You.” Elsewhere, Jones pairs with Memphis' acclaimed community choir, Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith, for soaring renditions of such classic spirituals as “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “Up Above My Head.” The Great Debaters also features jazz favorites like Duke Ellington's "Delta Serenade," performed by the esteemed New York-based big band, David Berger and the Sultans of Swing. The collection is rounded off by period recordings from such luminaries as Marian Anderson, Art Tatum, and the Delmore Brothers.

The soundtrack on Atlantic Records is available from

James Newton Howard's score will be released by Varèse Sarabande on January 15 and is available from

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