'The Movement Revisited' Pays Tribute To King Bassist and composer Christian McBride has penned an hour-long musical work inspired by leading figures of the civil-rights movement. Hear a 17-piece big band and gospel choir perform McBride's tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

'The Movement Revisited' Pays Tribute To King

Christian McBride's The Movement Revisited at Walt Disney Concert Hall - 05/16/2008

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99483337/99475771" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">


  • Christian McBride, bass/conductor
  • Wendell Pierce, narrator
  • St. James Sacred Nation Concert Choir
  • 17-piece jazz big band


Jeff Lunden, host

Fred Vogler, recording engineer

Recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, Calif., on May 16, 2008.

Martin Luther King Jr. greets the crowd at the March on Washington of Aug. 28, 1963. Bassist Christian McBride scored the text of King's "I Have A Dream" speech, delivered that day. Hulton Archive / Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Christian McBride is best known as one of the most sought-after contemporary jazz and pop bass players. But he's also a serious composer.

His hour-long work "The Movement Revisited" melds spoken texts from four leading figures of the civil-rights movement — Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. — with a jazz band and a gospel choir.

McBride says it was challenging to find just the right spoken passages to go with the music, particularly with King.

"Every speech the man wrote was a masterpiece, so we're talking about a good 13 years of speeches and letters and different sorts of texts to chose from," McBride says. "You really can't go wrong, you know. If you find a book of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, close your eyes and put your finger on the page; you'll come up with a great quote."

As he put together the work, there was one text he knew he absolutely needed to include.

"Obviously, you have to pick 'I Have a Dream,' which is probably one of the greatest speeches in history," McBride says. "So that was sort of a no-brainer."

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NPR Music presents the last section of Christian McBride's "The Movement Revisited," dedicated to King. Click the link at the top of the page to hear a live performance of the work.

The entirety of "The Movement Revisited" will be featured this summer in an installment of Discoveries at Walt Disney Concert Hall, an eclectic mix of concert specials recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.