Michelle Mayne-Graves and her Lifeline Quartet perform spirituals from the Civil War and earlier celebrating code songs for the Underground Railroad. These spirituals include hidden messages about maps, navigational strategies and timing for slaves to escape toward freedom in the Northern States and Canada.
For the Lifeline Quartet’s debut album, Yarlung chose “If I Can Help Somebody” to be the opening track. This song not only honors Harriet Tubman, but reveals Michelle’s generous heart as well. Harriet Tubman is one of the better known heroes who escaped slavery herself and then worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping subsequent groups of people flee to the North.
“Wade in the Water” serves as a reminder of where to walk in the rivers to make it harder for dogs to scent people escaping at night. “I’m On My Way to Canaan’s Land” talks about the route to Canada.
Michelle lives what she sings. In addition to directing choirs, performing spirituals and helping to coordinate and lead veterans singing groups, Michelle Mayne-Graves supervises a team and works as a nurse assisting homeless veterans at the Veteran’s Administration in Los Angeles.
Total time: 00:36:41
Lifeline Quartet, Michael Fitzgerald, Michelle Mayne-Graves, Quinton Fitzgerald, Walter Penniman II
|Analog Recording Equipment||
SonoruS ATR12 Analog Tape Recorder
Hapi by Merging Technologies
Steve Hoffman & Bob Attiyeh (Stereo & Surround Sound), Tom Caulfield (DSD Stereo & DSD Surround Sound)
Ted Ancona’s famous “Frank Sinatra” AKG C-24 vacuum tube stereo microphone and two additional mid-hall Ted Ancona Schoeps M222 vacuum tube omnidirectional mono microphones from Ancona Audio
DSD 512 Stereo files created by Tom Calulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab using Jussi Laako's modulators from Signalyst
|Original Recording Format|
Bob Attiyeh & Arian Jansen
Samueli Theater, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California on October 27, 2018
Pyramix by Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
Analog (Stereo), DSD 256 (Surround Sound)
|Release Date||July 19, 2019|
NativeDSD – 2019 Album of the Year – Spiritual
On Lifeline, Yarlung producer Bob Attiyeh and special advisor Billy Mitchell wanted to bring the spiritual music of the civil war era to music fans. Yarlung tells us that the album features songs that include hidden messages about maps, navigational strategies, and timing for slaves to escape toward freedom in the Northern States and Canada.
To do bring listeners the full passion and impact of these songs, you need special artists. With the Lifeline Quartet led by Michelle Mayne-Graves, Yarlung has found such a group of talented, soulful, and passionate performers.
Once you hear their renditions of songs like Wade In The Water, this album will be heading to your collection in Stereo DSD (up to DSD 512) and Multichannel DSD (up to DSD 256). It’s compelling music with stellar sound quality to match. A true highlight from this year’s NativeDSD releases.
Yarlung Records is always full of surprises, and Lifeline: Music of the Underground Railroad is no exception. Bob Attiyeh, award-winning President of the label, brought it to my attention, explaining its unique and extraordinary meaning. Bob’s tastes are broader and generally superior to mine, and his recommendations always pan out. His hands-on recording techniques, minimalist use of tube microphones, and recording produce a consistent you-are-there presentation that one must take seriously.
I listened, my ears immersed in this album over and over and heard more nuance and beauty with each play. Just knowing the significance of these spirituals for unaccompanied voices was road maps and directions coded in music for slaves on the run to Canada before and during the Civil War made it unreal and poignant. These pieces will move you in ways you cannot know until you listen to them.
Wait until you hear “Steal Away,” a plea to slaves to attempt escape, filled with melodious beauty and special lyrics. Recorded live in a single unedited session, voices are rounded and palpable in perfect imaging on a virtual stage in your listening room. Astounding.
“Wade in the Water” again suggests how to ford the streams and rivers. With just four voices, a choral sound suggesting eight voices emerges with energy and dimension giving the listener the sense of real-life in real space. I am an audiophile, and Lifeline is a reference album of the highest level. Bob Attiyeh and his team demonstrate taste levels of the highest order.
I was most gratified by how superbly alive Lifeline is produced by my system. My favorite cut? “Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around.” You just want to sing along and cry.
A must own reference quality recording.
Music “A,” Recording “A+”
I am a Pyramix user and sound engineer. I bought Lifeline: Music of the Underground Railroad in Stereo and Multichannel DSD 256. It is simply beautiful and wonderful!!! Thank you.
A Capella at it’s finest! I’ve already listened to this twice and I am In love with it! Great harmonies and fascinating stories behind these “code songs”. Michelle Mayne-Graves and the guys are powerfully blessed deliverers of this magic!
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