International Producer, Composer, and American Choreographer Sean McLeod works and records with Empire Film Music Ensemble at Eastman School of Music to bring back to life, music for Harriet Tubman thought lost in a fire for 23 Years ago. Here, Empire Film Music Ensemble Co-director Max Berlin, Bassist Sean Knapp, and Drummer Andrew Tachine are led by the Award Winning Sean McLeod to recreate "Come on Harriet", the title soundtrack from the Musical “A Woman Called Harriet” now being done on the "A Soundtrack for Harriet Tubman" reconstructive music project composed by McLeod.
Upon hearing of the Tubman music’s existence by a member of the Empire Film Music Ensemble, a meeting in Rochester, NY brought the group’s leadership; Founder & Artistic Director Michael Staffeldt, Assistant Director and Personal Manager Adam Sadberry, Co-Director Max Berlin, Assistant Director and Arranger Joe Hagen, Assistant Director and Social Media Director Ben Escobar, and Assistant Director and Choral Organizer Kat Gorlova, together with International Producer and American Choreographer Sean McLeod to revive McLeod’s music from the 1993 musical “A Woman Called Harriet”, and to do so in order to create “A Soundtrack for Harriet Tubman”, and aid in the commemoration of Tubman's legacy which is finally catching steam nationally. McLeod, in addition to writing the original music, also grew up in the Auburn, NY church Harriet Tubman founded, played nearly weekly at the Harriet Tubman Home (now slated to become a national park) after church services where picnics often happened while growing up. McLeod is also a direct descendant of a rescued slave carried to freedom by Tubman.
A WOMAN CALLED HARRIET is a musical created by Sean McLeod based on the original 1972 script Harriet Tubman written by the gracious Eula A. Lamphere of Weedsport, NY. Eula sought out a team to bring her manuscript to life in a musical. Her search led her to Sean McLeod after becoming familiar with his dramatic play on Harriet Tubman, "A Moment in History". Mrs. Lamphere and the team offered Sean the commission and the undertaking of the conversion from play to musical. As he worked, Sean could not find a person to write the music, so he decided to write the music himself. After completion, he enlisted the help of Gospel Director and Conductor Frank Jones to help him orchestrate the music for piano. Sean's music for the musical included the title track "Come on Harriet", "I Got to Run To Be A Free Man", "Going Across That Land", and the song sang by the William Seward's character, "Harriet's Lullaby"! The musical's opening number is Sean's interpretation of the Negro National Anthem "We Will Overcome", but as he heard it for Harriet Tubman's journey.
The Musical premiered June 24, 1993. A WOMAN CALLED HARRIET - A musical tribute chronicling the life and heroism of Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her People.
All of this work, footage, and music was thought lost in a 9 alarm fire at the New York Institute of Dance & Education, but a box of unmarked video tapes in 2013 uncovered the history and fingerprint to recreate the music. Astonishingly, 2013 happened to be the year of Harriet Tubman's centennial.
The creation of the original musical was sponsored by the City of Auburn, the Auburn Bicentennial Committee, the Auburn Enlarged School District, Schweinfurth Memorial Arts Center, Fuller Bros, New York Dance Studio, and Cayuga Saving Bank.