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Singing the Praises of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at CSU

Not every wife would write a song, let alone a song cycle, dedicated to her mother-in-law.  But composer and soprano Patrice Michaels' mother-in-law is unique.

She's Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Thursday at 7 p.m. Cleveland State University welcomes Michaels and her record-producer husband James Ginsburg, Justice Ginsburg's son, for a performance of Michaels' "The Long View: A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Nine Songs."

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Patrice Michaels, James Ginsburg and Angelin Chang [photo: ideastream]

The project began as part of an 80th birthday celebration for Justice Ginsburg.

"She gave me permission to look through the archives at the Library of Congress and she gave me access to her biographers.  I was able to get actual documents that really do create a chronological portrait of her life.  How many people would be able to set that to music?  I just felt like that was my job," Michaels said.

Now it's the centerpiece of the recording "The Notorious RBG in Song" on James Ginsburg's Chicago record label Cedille.

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For James Ginsburg the project grew organically with Justice Ginsburg's blessing.

"Mom was very much part of the growth of this cycle.  As Patrice likes to point out [one of the songs] was composed on the piano in the apartment while my mother was sleeping," Ginsburg said.

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James Ginsburg, Angelin Chang, Patrice Michaels and Dan Polletta [photo: ideastream]

While writing songs about love is one thing, writing songs about tort reform is something altogether different.

"People often think about the fact that there's going to be a song with actual words from actual dissenting opinions and they think, 'Oh gosh that's going to be awful.'  But to me it was so exciting to bring the cadence of those words off the page and into music," Michaels said.

Patrice Michaels performs "The Long View: A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Nine Songs" with Grammy-winning CSU piano professor - Angelin Chang - Thursday, April 18 at 7pm in CSU's Drinko Hall.

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