We Tell Each Other Stories • from Considering Matthew Shepard, a new concert work by Craig Hella Johnson featuring Conspirare

When I was 23 years old I moved to San Francisco to sing in a choir lead by a man named Craig Hella Johnson. Growing up gay in Missouri had it’s challenges, but I was brimming with excitement about my…

We Tell Each Other Stories • from Considering Matthew Shepard, a new concert work by Craig Hella Johnson featuring Conspirare

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When I was 23 years old I moved to San Francisco to sing in a choir lead by a man named Craig Hella Johnson. Growing up gay in Missouri had it’s challenges, but I was brimming with excitement about my new life in California. Walking through the neighborhoods of San Francisco on my way to rehearsal I saw men of every age holding hands and smiling at me. For the first time in my life I was normal.

One month later I awoke to the terrifying news that a young gay man my age had been brutally beaten and tied to a fence by two other young men in Laramie, Wyoming. I walked to rehearsal in shock and shared the news with my friend Craig. “His name is Matt,” I said standing there shaking. Neither of us could believe it had happened. Six days later, Matt Shepard died but we have not forgotten him.

Matt was a brave activist, poet and performer. To keep his spirit & story alive my friend Craig has written a beautiful concert work for voices & orchestra called Considering Matthew Shepard. He invited me to come perform the piece earlier this year as a member of his professional Austin-based choir, Conspirare. We recorded the entire work and the album is now available to share with the world.

I recently made a pilgrimage to Laramie to learn about the place Matt called home. I spent two days meeting shop-keepers & local musicians wandering the town. I was moved by kindness in their eyes and also by the sheer beauty of Wyoming. I spent my last few hours in Laramie sitting near a pasture & fence watching the sun drift away. It wasn’t the exact place where Matt was left behind, but I spoke to him there and let the pain I’d kept close from age 23 pierce through me into the red. We Tell Each Other Stories is offered here as glimpse of this new work by Craig. It is my hope you’ll take the time to discover the rest of it’s beauty by listening to the album, sharing it with your friends & family, and joining us to see it performed on stage next year.

“Considering Matthew Shepard” is available on iTunes, Amazon Music and at www.conspirare.org.
Considering Matthew Shepard on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/johnson-considering-matthew/id1139116650
Considering Matthew Shepard on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/consideringmatthewshepard

“We Tell Each Other Stories” © 2016 Harmonia Mundi USA (appears here with permission)

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