Preview: Historically based show was brainchild of Pennsylvania police officer inspired by changed life of hymn’s author, John Newton. Broadway in Chicago run opens Oct. 19 at Bank of America Theatre.
By Nancy Malitz
I first became aware of the strange history of the song “Amazing Grace” in 1990, when I attended an interview that the soprano Jessye Norman was taping with TV journalist Bill Moyers in New York City. The African-American diva extraordinaire had a voice of extreme range, majesty and finesse, and she was wielding it that day on behalf of a hymn that had become a touchstone of the civil rights, folk and evangelical movements of the 20th century.
The acute historical irony is that this religious poem — which is the subject of the Broadway-bound musical “Amazing Grace” that opens Oct. 19 at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre — was written by an English sailor, John Newton, who had prayed in terror during a storm at sea while engaged in the evil of the triangle slave trade. Read the full story »