Acclaimed PARMA artist Clipper Erickson’s album MY CUP RUNNETH OVER, released on Navona Records in November of 2015, was chosen by the critics of Gramophone as one the most favorite albums of the year.
Erickson, who studied at Juilliard School of Music, Yale University, and at Indiana University, and who received his Doctorate degree from Temple University, where he now teaches in addition to Westminister Conservatory, was the first to present a complete collection of Robert Nathaniel Dett‘s piano works.
Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) is regarded as one of America’s most important musicians in history.
Although Dett was introduced to music at a young age, it wasn’t until he experienced a movement of Antonín Dvořák played slowly by Kneisel Quartet at Oberlin College (where he was the first African American to graduate), did he find his true passion for music and writing.
Dett was quoted on that moment recalling, “Suddenly it seemed I heard again the frail voice of my long departed grandmother calling across the years; and in a rush of emotion which stirred my spirit to its very center, the meaning of the songs which had given her soul such peace was revealed to me.”
Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was also an influence on Dett’s composing career. Coleridge-Taylor focused on Negro folk idioms, such as Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, which Dett drew inspiration from. Dett focused his own work on Negro folk. Dett was considered the first American composer to accurately represent and fuse African American folk idioms with the music tradition of European art, staying away from stereotypes, and composing the genre in a sophisticated way.
Erickson spent his Doctoral education focused on Dett’s work, which is what inspired the album MY CUP RUNNETH OVER. The album was not only positively reviewed by classical music reviewing giant, Gramophone saying, “This historically and musically important release not only fills a crucial catalogue gap but sets reference standards. No serious aficionado of the history of American piano music can afford to miss it[,]” but also from many other publications such as Cinemusical, Africlassical, All About Jazz, Black Grooves, Planet Hugill, and Sonograma Magazine, just to name a few.