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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concept Album > Biography > Dark Triumph -The Life Of Victoria Lancaster Smith (Concept Album/CD)

Dark Triumph – The Life Of Victoria Lancaster Smith (CD Set)


Sound: B     Music/Narrative: B



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 recommended.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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