Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman’s famed concert at Carnegie Hall; “The Magic of Spirituals” on GREAT PERFORMANCES, Feb. 24 at 9 pm

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Great Performances Explores  Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle’s Legendary Spirituals Concert at Carnegie Hall in Documentary’s U.S. Broadcast Premiere

February 24 at 9 pm on PBS



Discover the behind-the-scenes story of Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle’s famed concert at Carnegie Hall on March 18, 1990, in Great Performances: The Magic of Spirituals, premiering Friday, February 24 at 9 p.m. on PBS, and the PBS App as part of Black History Month.

Kathleen Battle
Kathleen Battle

With legendary African American contralto Marian Anderson in attendance, many wondered if the two singers would compete or join forces and sing together. Showcasing extended excerpts of Norman and Battle in performance, the documentary examines the preparation required and the historic concert’s enduring impact.

New interviews and reminiscences are featured from the concert’s producer Peter Gelb (currently Met Opera General Manager), soprano Angel Blue, author and playwright Darryl Pinckney, arranger and composer Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Harlem Gospel Singers’ founder Queen Esther Marrow, Fisk Jubilee Singers Musical Director Paul T. Kwami, and jazz and opera singer Jocelyn B. Smith.


Singer-songwriter Joy Denalane.
Singer-songwriter Joy Denalane.

Notable Talent:

  • Peter Gelb – Met Opera General Manager
  • Angel Blue – Operatic soprano
  • Darryl Pinckney – Author and playwright
  • Evelyn Simpson-Curenton – Arranger and composer
  • Queen Esther Marrow – Founder of Harlem Gospel Singers
  • Paul T. Kwami – Fisk Jubilee Singers Musical Director
  • Jocelyn B. Smith – Jazz and opera singer


Noteworthy Facts:

  • Peter Gelb originally envisioned the idea for the concert to spotlight both singers and pay homage to their African American roots.
  • Norman and Battle’s Spirituals concert at Carnegie Hall inspired opera singer Angel Blue to continue on her path to becoming a professional singer.