The Music of Langston Hughes

Only Heaven – Medium High Voice


Product Description

Only Heaven

Medium High Voice


Composer Ricky Ian Gordon


Settings of 17 poems by Langston Hughes. Contents: Angel Wings • Daybreak in Alabama • Delinquent • Demand • Dream • Dream Variations • Drum • Harlem Night Song • In Time of Silver Rain • Late Last Night • Litany Luck • Night: Four Songs • Port Town • Song for a Dark Girl • Stars • When Sue Wears Red.

Ricky Ian Gordon, Composer & New Yorker

Ricky Ian Gordon, a prolific composer and songwriter, was born on May 15, 1956, in the coastal town of Oceanside, New York. His upbringing on Long Island laid the foundation for his illustrious career in music and the performing arts. Gordon’s journey as an artist began with a profound passion for piano, composition, and acting, which led him to pursue formal education in these disciplines at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University.

Upon completing his studies, Gordon made the pivotal decision to call New York City his home, where he would embark on an extraordinary creative odyssey. In the bustling artistic hub of the city, he quickly established himself as a leading luminary in the world of vocal music, effortlessly transcending the boundaries between art song, opera, and musical theater.

One of Ricky Ian Gordon’s remarkable trademarks is his ability to craft songs that resonate deeply with audiences worldwide. His compositions have not only graced the stages of renowned concert halls and theaters but have also been cherished by some of the most esteemed vocalists on the international stage. Singers of the highest caliber, including luminaries like Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O’Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Nadine Sierra, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others, have lent their voices to interpret his evocative works.

Ricky Ian Gordon’s music is a testament to his ability to capture the human experience through his compositions, drawing on his extensive training and life experiences. His profound impact on the world of music, spanning genres and captivating hearts, continues to be felt, making him an enduring force in the realm of contemporary vocal music. His legacy as a composer and songwriter remains an inspiration to aspiring artists and a source of joy for audiences across the globe.

Langston Hughes: A Brief Biography and Analysis of Selected Poems

Langston Hughes, born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural and artistic movement that emerged in the 1920s. Hughes is widely recognized for his influential contributions to American literature, particularly in the realm of poetry. His life and work reflect the struggles and aspirations of the African American community during the early 20th century.

Kansas played a significant role in Hughes’s upbringing. After his parents’ separation, Hughes moved to Lawrence, Kansas, to live with his grandmother, Mary Langston. It was in Kansas that he first began to write poetry and develop his love for literature. This early exposure to the vibrant African American culture in Lawrence would shape his future work and perspectives.

Let’s delve into the meanings of some of Langston Hughes’s notable poems:

  1. “Angel Wings” – This poem speaks to the idea of innocence and purity. It portrays the image of an angel, symbolizing goodness and divine grace, and suggests that even in a world filled with darkness, there is still a place for the pure-hearted.
  2. “Daybreak In Alabama” – In this poem, Hughes expresses hope and optimism for a brighter future, especially in the context of racial injustice. He envisions a daybreak where the oppressive racial divisions of the South are transformed into unity and harmony.
  3. “Dream” – “Dream” is a powerful poem that explores the dreams deferred or delayed by racial prejudice. Hughes asks whether these postponed dreams wither like a raisin in the sun or explode. It’s a poignant reflection on the impact of racism on the African American community’s aspirations.
  4. “Harlem Night Song” – This poem captures the vibrant nightlife of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes paints a vivid picture of the city’s energy, music, and nightlife, celebrating the cultural richness of this iconic neighborhood.
  5. “Luck” – “Luck” explores the concept of luck in the context of racial inequality. It suggests that while luck may not always favor marginalized communities, determination and resilience can lead to success.
  6. “Song For A Dark Girl” – This poem is a poignant elegy that reflects on the tragedy of racial violence and the loss of a loved one. It underscores the profound impact of racism on African American lives.
  7. “When Sue Wears Red” – This poem explores the power of color and its symbolism. It suggests that when Sue wears red, it brings passion, excitement, and vitality to the world around her. It’s a celebration of color’s transformative impact.

Each of these poems by Langston Hughes reflects his deep understanding of the African American experience, his commitment to social justice, and his mastery of language. Through his work, he continues to inspire readers to contemplate the enduring themes of race, identity, hope, and the human spirit.


  • Piano
  • Vocal

Product Details

  •  #HL 00313082
  •  9780793585182
  •  073999130829
  •  9.0″
  •  12.0″
  •  88 Pages

Additional information

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The Music of Langston Hughes

Inspired by his messages of justice, freedom, and the hope that a brighter future lies ahead, notable composers and arrangers have beautifully coupled Langston Hughes' passionate words with equally captivating music.

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