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  • The First Bluebird in the Morning

The First Bluebird in the Morning

2021 / United States / 7 Minutes / Jamar Roberts

Film Synopsis

The First Bluebird in the Morning is composer Carlos Simon’s newly-commissioned setting of verses by Sandra Seaton—sobering, heartfelt and moving. Shot in stunning black and white, the film is created by director and choreographer Jamar Roberts. In a breathtaking performance, solo dancer Lloyd Knight, a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, brings life and movement to the piece in combination with the voice of tenor Joshua Blue.

A NOTE FROM CARLOS SIMON: According to a recent study, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the United States at more than five times the rate of whites. This piece is a soliloquy of sorts from the perspective of an inmate experiencing life as a prisoner, but yet finding hope and solace in the freedom of a bluebird. I’ve composed dark, brooding music to represent the mundane life of prison, which transforms later into a vibrant dance when the inmate gazes at and admires the colorful bird.

A NOTE FROM SANDRA SEATON: When I began to write about a young man soon to leave prison for parole, I knew ahead of time that I was writing for Josh’s voice. I wanted to dress Joshua Blue’s voice, the voice of this young man (YM), in something new. To start, I talked with my sister Brenda about the prison world. She hadn’t been to prison herself, but she contacted a few friends who had been there. I was able to tap into their experience. Because it was 2021, I couldn’t help thinking about the isolation of the coronavirus. I imagined Josh being in a room by himself, limited by the restrictions of the virus. I looked up images of prison wires and found one called concertina, a musical reference and the wire that keeps YM imprisoned. Much of what I learned and researched is not in the libretto. It forms the subtext, the powerful engine that lies beneath the words. The libretto is the tip of the iceberg.

The First Bluebird in the Morning - LA Opera (10s reel) from LA Opera on Vimeo.