Rosa Parks – Oratorio of Seven Songs

for Three Vocalists, String Quartet, Trumpet Quartet, Duo, Dance, and Video

by Wadada Leo Smith

Rosa Parks oratorio employs the song-form as composition that conveys a philosophical and spiritual narrative about my vision of Rosa Parks.  The oratorio is concerned with ideas of freedom, liberty and justice.  This meditation is centered around the Civil Rights movement.  The stage setting is presented with the use of lights as a major convey of emotion and scenery with the projection of video images reconnecting history with the present.

Libreto and music by

Wadada Leo Smith

(except No Fear, text by Rosa Parks & Wadada Leo Smith)


Pre-recorded Incidental Music by:

Leroy Jenkins, Steve McCall, Anthony Braxton, and Wadada Leo Smith



The stage plot is designed having the instrumental ensembles on the opposite side of the stage, and the three singers will occupy the center stage.


First singer:

positioned in the center of the stage in a high structured chair with a golden color cloth covering it.  The voice and the pipa should be amplified with contact microphones.


Second and third singers:

Are positioned on the left and the right of the first singer. They are in the center of a circular light field that is illuminated from the ceiling to the floor and can be visibly seen from the audience.

Both singers will have RCA microphones with round-basin stands.


Video Screen and Video Projector


Ensemble Amplification:

String Quartet: Area / overhead microphones (two each)

Trumpet Quartet: acoustic on stage, but two microphones needed for the PA mix.


The Seven Songs:


Opening scene prelude:

Video Image

Ensembles Music: trumpet quartet / string quartet / electronics


Song – 1:

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 381 Days: Fire

Ensembles Music: trumpet quartet / string quartet / electronics


Song – 2:

The First Light

Ensemble Music


Song – 3:

Change It!

Ensemble music: string quartet / drum-set


Song – 4:

The Truth

Ensemble Music: trumpet quartet / drum-set


Song – 5:

No Fear

Ensembles Music: string quartet / trumpet quartet / drum-set


Song – 6:

The Second Light

Ensembles music: string quartet / trumpet quartet / electronics


Song – 7:

Pure Love

Ensembles music: trumpet quartet / string quartet / electronics