“The famous opera podiatrists applaud American Lawrence Brownlee for his honeyed, shimmering bel canto tones, which will be heard for the first time in the Concertgebouw next Wednesday. But those notes, he says, only embody one side of his soul. The black tenor puts his fame and also votes for the Black Lives Matter movement. As artistic advisor to the opera in Philadelphia, he was a driving force behind the emergence of two modern-classical pieces that reflect the raw black reality in America: the opera Yardbird, about saxophonist Charlie Parker, and the song series Cycles of My Being, about the murder of a black man in a police cell.
"America, I hear your hissing and see your gaze," he sings in the first song 'Inhale, Exhale.' "Do you love my life breath as much as I love yours?" That question characterizes the character of Cycles of My Being, says Brownlee. "I do not wave my fist in the face of the white audience. It is about letting listeners experience what many people experience on a daily basis and what we feel when we have to watch on television how a black man dies needlessly through police bullets.”