The story of Margaret Garner, the inspiration for Morrison's novel Beloved, has been turned into an opera. Morrison wrote the libretto, and the score was composed by Richard Danielpour. The events depicted onstage are as heart-breaking as any classic opera; tragically, they are based on a true story.
The composer Andre Previn has created a suite of four songs inspired by the poetry of Toni Morrison. The songs - "Mercy," "Stones," "Shelter" and "The Lacemaker" - are written for a cello, a piano and a soprano singer.
Toni Morrison is an admirer of the writer Ralph Ellison. As a trumpet player and lifelong jazz aficionado, Ralph Ellison saw music as an integral part of his life and wrote about it frequently. When Modern Library published an anthology of his music writing, the publisher also arranged for this companion disc that features the artists he wrote about.
It has been said that Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is structured more like a jazz composition than a novel. Armstrong's classic "Black and Blue" figures prominently in the book, with the song lulling the narrator into a nearly-hallucinatory state.
Enslaved African-Americans such as the fictional Sethe in Beloved used songs to express comfort, faith and protest. Some spirituals were sung by slaves as they worked. Others such as "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Wade In the Water" were about the Underground Railroad. This site explores the genre in depth.