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A Palette To Paint Us As We Are

Cover Image by Roman Poljak.
Licensed by Shutterstock.

A moving tribute to our skins' true colors
Finalist in the Ithaca College Choral Competition Competition
Gerald Rich

Inspired by Gerald Rich's moving tribute to our skins' true colors — including such luscious shades as mahogany, coffee, champagne and rose gold —— this piece weaves together a wide variety of choral textures and instrumental timbres, moving softly and tenderly from one hue to another, creating a seamless tapestry of sound.

This song is included on the CD, Finally On My Way To Yes, which may be ordered below.
Individual tracks may be downloaded at the following online stores:

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Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Delivery Method Price Quantity SATB, piano - Choral Score
5'00" M SEA-014-01 Sheet Music
$3.00 SATB, piano - Choral Score
5'00" M SEA-014-01D Licensed PDF
SSA, piano - Choral Score
5'00" M SEA-014-02 Sheet Music
SSA, piano - Choral Score
5'00" M SEA-014-02D Licensed PDF
$2.25 Finally on My Way to Yes - CD
60'00" SEA-CD-01 CD

A Palette To Paint Us As We Are

Poem by Gerald Rich

Give us a palette to paint us as we are.
Enough of black and white, yellow and red,
Those false colors that sham at fact.

Coffee, and chocolate, and café au lait,
Ivoried saffron, and saffroned ivory,
Bronze, and brass, copper, and rose gold,
Tea and pale butter, golden almond,
Infinite varieties of browns and tans,
Pale rose, pink and soft rose cream,
mahogany, oak, cedar, and champagne.

These are the colors of people I see,
Not black and white, not yellow and red.
Those false colors no longer will do.
Give us a palette to paint us true.

Composer's Note: 

I first heard Gerald Rich's moving tribute to our skins' true colors in the late 1990s, at a poetry reading where he read from his work.  As the opening words of this poem were spoken, the room grew suddenly still except for a few barely audible gasps. As I took in each delicious shade of color, I envisioned a musical language that would contain as much harmonic and melodic color as the poem, moving softly and tenderly from one subtle hue to another.

I want to thank Samantha Ralston for allowing me to use her pastel drawing as the cover art for this title.  She created the art onstage in 2011, while her high school choir performed this song.

Reviews and Responses: 

"I saw this number performed at IMEA [Illinois Music Educators Association], and a student painted a picture to your song while they were singing...  It is amazing and is hanging in my office.  You have inspired more people than you will ever know.  People of all colors were there and some had tears rolling down their face.  I was so moved."  — Susan Moninger, director of choral ensembles at Elmhurst College, and co-founder and director of Showchoir Camps of America, Inc. (Elmhurst, IL)

"[A Palette To Paint Us As We Are] was an audience favorite at both of our concerts this past spring. We are very fortunate to live in South Florida, where we meet many singers from a variety of world cultures. This text beautifully reflects not only our singers, but also the community we serve." Eric Peterson, media specialist for The Girl Choir of South Florida

"I am grateful for your innovative composition and the artistic setting of such a powerful text.  THANK YOU!!"   — Carlyn Zimmermann, music director of Carbondale Community High School Chamber Singers (Carbondale, IL)


SATB, piano

Ithaca High School Choir / Art Loomis ~ Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY)   * Premiere

Camerata Singers of Muskegon / Floyd Farmer (Muskegon, MI)

Carbondale Community High School Chamber Singers / Carlyn Zimmermann ~ Illinois Music Educators Association Conference (Peoria, IL)

Choir of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles / William Belan (Los Angeles, CA)

Illinois State University Women's Choir / Sarah Graham (Normal, IL)

Imagine! / Roberta Shimensky (Sandy, UT)

Santa Fe Women's Ensemble / Linda Rainey (Santa Fe, NM)

"Sounding Joy" of Centre College / Barbara Hall (Danville, KY)

WomanVoice Chorus / Kathy Romey (Minneapolis, MN)

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