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UPDATE: Category Change: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Joshua Blue, tenor

Steven Blier,  piano

Producers: Steven Blier, Jonathan Estabrooks

Executive Producers: Martin Fridson, Elaine Sisman

Mixing: Jonathan Estabrooks

Mastering: Bryan Lowe, Joao Carvalho Mastering

Recorded on November 5-7, 2022 at Big Orange Sheep, Brooklyn

Cover Art: Plan Z

Design: Gillian Riesen, Emitha LLC

NYFOS Records 2023 ©


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In the winter of 2017, I was planning a Juilliard show simply called PROTEST, a program of songs from many countries that put the growing Black Lives Matter protests into the long history of artist activism. I had cast Joshua Blue in the vocal ensemble, and asked him to have a look at Fats Waller’s “Black and Blue.” Josh was new to Juilliard, and I didn’t know how his 21st century sensibility would respond to the complexities of Andy Razaf’s 1929 lyrics. Josh brought it in to a coaching session and delivered a stunning first reading, leaving me speechless.


When the dust settled, I joked, “You know, ‘Black and Blue’ would be a perfect title for a CD we could make one day.” And when we launched NYFOS Records in 2021, “Black and Blue” went to the top of the wish list.


Since PROTEST we have steadily added to our concert repertoire, and those songs form the basis for this recording. Two of them are receiving their first-ever recordings: “Negrita” and “Freedom Train,” both of which were languishing in library stacks. The rest of the rep runs the gamut from spirituals to jazz, blues to Stevie Wonder. They speak to the issues of our time with surprising eloquence.


Josh’s operatic schedule is peppered with productions of La Bohème and Rigoletto in major American houses. For his first solo CD, though, he preferred “a celebration of the music that shaped me as an artist before opera was even a blip on my radar.” These are the songs and musical styles that helped make me—well—me.” He added, “It is also an opportunity to share the magic that happens when Steve and I perform together.” That is music to my ears. I too revel in my incandescent partnership with Joshua Blue, and together with some of New York’s best side-men we offer a program that both celebrates America and holds it to account.

- Steve Blier



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