Dark Triumph – The Life
Of Victoria Lancaster Smith (CD
There are so many powerful life stories we never hear
about and from the narrative biopic to many documentaries (increasingly being
made) to communicate the life experience to others. Dark Triumph – The Life Of Victoria
Lancaster Smith (2005) attempts to do the same thing as a music concept
album, in which the subject tells her story from song to song, resulting in a
surprisingly powerful presentation of a remarkable life that survived the
ugliest possible hate and racism to have a remarkable life.
Growing up in Baltimore, she faced insane odds against any
kind of success due to crazy segregation and racism, including racism within
her own race, family and community. The
horrible hate/self-hate cycle from the criminal split between black &
white, then of African American families favoring their lighter-skinned
children over the darker ones, a betrayal of their own race and color on a
profound scale is obviously going to be especially hard on innocent children
who are born into this living hell and often do not have any of the chances
they deserve to succeed. That begins
with allowing children to have the pride and dignity a free society owes them.
The spilt, as explored in TV series like Frank’s Place
and Spike Lee’s bizarre Musical Comedy School Daze, it is one of the
ugliest truths society is still treating as taboo and does not want to deal
with. The problem is as bad as ever in
some ways, even with integration since the 1950s, proving that the
discrimination at its full-blown worst was not that long ago and has not really
gone away as much as it has gone underground.
The hate has also mutated into other nightmares, but in this, a lady
like Miss Smith became one of those who were able to find her was in the world
while so many others have been left behind.
Cecilia Smith comes up with some beautiful music
throughout that tells the story and enhances the odyssey Miss Smith has
taken. I found it powerful in subtle
ways throughout in a true heart and soul way.
Of the two CDs here, one has Victoria Smith talking, while the other
isolates Cecilia Smith’s music. Both are
very effective listening, though it is something how nicely the instrumental
only speaks without words a profound truth.
It becomes an experience that reminds us of the power of music and how
underused that power is today with such dreadful formula junk that passes for
music. Music is supposed to be about
(and come from) the heart. This set and
Victoria Smith’s life exposed so bravely reminds us of this at its best.
The PCM 2.0 16bit/44.1kHz Stereo is very good in both
versions, nicely recorded, produced and engineered. Miss Smith’s voice is not too forward or
misintegrated into the soundfield.
Instead, she sounds good and her voiceovers have a nice naturalistic
sound and feel that makes the music and narrative al the more powerful. This is a great project that succeeds and is
- Nicholas Sheffo