In Georgia: Through the Gospel Grapevine

The sound of American slavery is living very quietly on a dark side street in Brunswick, Ga. And a young black composer named Walter Robinson has come a thousand miles to hear it: tones, overtones, agony and all. Call it gospel, or call it the blues. The sound starts low and shades into the sky, leaving behind an ache or sprig of consolation. "That's the sound I want," he says, as he drives toward his destination.

At the door of their modest brick bungalow, Doug Quimby and his wife Frankie greet the 37-year-old Robinson fondly, with gruff good humor. The three...

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