America’s National Anthem: Variations by the Amazing Rachel Flowers

In the years since I launched the Rhythm Planet blog and shows, I have never seen as enthusiastic a response as the one to our recent session with Rachel Flowers. The video of her in-studio rendition of an original composition called “Greg’s Favorite,” (which brought tears to my eyes) has topped 50,000 views on the Rhythm Planet Facebook page, and that number continues to grow.

Equally adept at classical flute as well as acoustic and electric guitar, Rachel Flowers is a phenomenal musician—perhaps more than any artist I have ever encountered in my 40+ years at KCRW. I am moved and amazed by her stunning talent.

So on this July 4th holiday, I wanted to share again Rachel’s own variations on America’s national anthem. She first plays us the original song, with the famous lyrics by Francis Scott Key, and music ironically based on an old English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”.  Rachel then proceeds to create her own improvisations in the styles of Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, Hungarian avant-garde composer György Ligeti (best known for his music on the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack), minimalist master Steve Reich, and contemporary jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti. You must agree: Rachel Flowers is amazing. A feature documentary called “Hearing is Believing” tells the story of her unusual life journey and is now available on demand.

Best wishes to all of you this Independence Day. Enjoy and be safe.

Banner image by jqpubliq (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Flickr.