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Criminally unappreciated in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were first recorded and rediscovered decades later by record collectors and music lovers, the songs of folk-electronic singer and songwriter Beverly Glenn-Copeland have arrived in recent years as transmissions from the past – as if the sonic acts of love, with their longing melodies and syncopated rhythms, traveled through time and space, searching for the audience they wanted to find.
The late heyday of the Canadian American musician was fascinating to the music world, the whole picture of his life gently captured by director Posy Dixon in the film “Keyboard Fantasies: The Story of Beverly Glenn-Copeland” is even more shocking and remarkable. (The film, shot in 2019, is now in theaters and on digital and VOD via Greenwich Entertainment.)
From his childhood in a middle-class Quaker family of blacks in Philadelphia, where his father played classical piano and his mother sang spirituals, to fanaticism, which later led him to leave the University of Montreal, where he had not yet lived genuinely in his trance. identity, “Keyboard Fantasies” follows Glenn-Copeland’s development through his own memories, music, and social interviews.
Voices from his past testify to the many ways the world has spent most of his life unprepared for someone like him – a unique artist who can’t be put in one box. Songs from his first two albums of the same name, recorded in 1970, such as the mournful “Color of Anyhow,” musically place Glenn-Copeland among the folk-jazz scene of the period and reflect the themes of love, pain, and light that marked his early music. But it was only after he failed to gain traction in the industry that he recorded an album that was considered his masterpiece.
Inviting a camera to his home in rural Canada, where he lives with his family, surrounded by nature that inspires him, Glenn-Copeland, 77, scrolls through an email from 2015 that changed everything: a message from Japanese music collector Ryote Masuko, who came across the musician’s album “Keyboard Fantasies,” which was originally released on tape in 1986, and wanted to know if there was any surviving stock.
Soon, demand for Glenn-Copeland recordings led to reissues of his early work, and “Keyboard Fantasies,” recorded on a Yamaha DX-7 and Roland TR-707 in his home studio, quickly made him a cult icon. Glenn-Copeland, who was suddenly accepted by an international audience in his older years, who also wrote for “Sesame Street” and worked on the popular Canadian children’s television show “Mr. Dressup ”- he found himself in front of a new unforeseen path.
In this, he says, he found purpose. “Keyboard Fantasies” follows as he embarks on the biggest tour of his life, playing performances across Europe and Canada with an accompanying group of young musicians with whom he shares an atmosphere of expansive creativity and mutual adoration. (In the new edition of “Keyboard Fantasies Reimagined”, artists like it Bon Iver and Blood Orange revisit and rework songs from the original album.) In their shows, new shades of meaning and inspiration emerge in Glenn-Copeland songs such as “Ever New,” “Sunset Village,” and the spiritual “Deep River.”
In addition to Glenn-Copeland’s magnetic presence on stage and rich, sonorous, still flawless vocals, moments of dancing to music, riffs on spontaneous beats between sets and sharing sidewalk meals with his younger teammates are revealed, leaving a gracious note of legacy. Glenn-Copelanda. (Find the short documentary from 2017 for further viewing. “Lake Tomorrow«By Naomi Okabe.)
“Find people who will tell you how precious you are,” Glenn-Copeland says in an emotional moment of clarity and gratitude as he finally finds the willing ears and open hearts his music has been looking for. “Find a practice that will tell you how valuable you are … it’s not easy, but it’s possible.”
“Key Fantasies: The Story of Beverly Glenn-Copeland”
Operating time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale; also available in digital form and on VOD