Tyrone Birkett | Emancipation

Tyrone Birkett | Emancipation

 New York City, New York, USA

Imagine John Coltrane with Dianne Reeves and a taste of Stevie Wonder, Grover Washington Jr. With innovative arrangements, fiery improvisation and soothing lyricism.

Band Members: Tyrone Birkett saxophone, music director; Paula Ralph-Birkett, vocalist; Greg Royals, keyboards; Reggie Young, Electric Bass; Jason Patterson, Drums.



Tyrone Birkett is a saxophonist, composer and producer. He has created "Postmodern Spirituals" an innovative concept re-imagining and reviving the Negro spiritual through jazz, soul and black church music; what he calls "freedom music for the 21st century". The goal is providing curative and empowering music in troubling times. His current recording with his group Tyrone Birkett | Emancipation titled "Postmodern Spirituals: The Promised Land is the first endeavor to showcase this concept under his newly formed record label, Araminta Music."I could hear the essence of the Negro spiritual prominently in John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme and I had heard the black church influences in the jazz of Horace Silver, Charles Mingus and others. So I took what was organic and natural to me Coltrane, jazz fusion, 70s soul music, black church music, the Spirituals and had them all converge naturally, without forcing the issue".

As a saxophonist, Tyrone Birkett has synthesized his mentorship by jazz saxophone greats Frank Foster and Budd Johnson, years toiling in black church sanctuaries and soul-jazz into a distinctive fusion. An "outsider artist" not common to the jazz scene, he has nonetheless developed a powerful lyrical sound with shades of post-Coltraneisms and an idiosyncratic but musical melodic sense. As conceptualist and composer, he has created Postmodern Spirituals, a retelling of the Negro freedom song.

Tyrone brought this music to venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Schomburg Center for Black Culture, The Greene Space at WYNC, Lehman College Center for the Performing Arts, the U.N., Montreal Convention Centre, Bermuda and Europe. His work can also be heard in inner city schools, streets, and parks - anywhere where the music can affect the atmosphere of a community in a positive way.

In addition, Tyrone has performed on stages with a set of diverse luminaries incl. Frank Foster, Shirley Caesar and Al Green, and even with Little Richard when he came to Harlem during one of his gospel periods. He also made a contribution to the movie Proud starring renowned actor Ossie Davis in his last film performance and supported Nikki Giovanni in presentations of her book On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals.

Touring is planned in support of the CD "Postmodern Spirituals: The Promised Land, and projects in development include music/dance collaborations Terrible Beauty, Tragic Beauty on lynching and reconciliation and Those Whose Backs Are AgainstThe Wall on the disinherited and disenfranchised in the U.S.

Tyrone lives in the Bronx with his wife Paula Ralph-Birkett, an aspiring singer/songwriter in her own right who is featured in his work.


The Struggle

Written By: Tyrone Birkett

Time to press on, there is no other way
To be set free, to live a life
To wake up free, on that new morning
and not despise, the day ahead

What lies ahead, could be the end of me
Still I will go, what else to do
If I move beneath His shadow,
One day I'll step into the light

(Repeat ad lib)
One more step and one more day,
Eye on the prize a little faith!


Postmodern Spirituals: The Promised Land - 2014

In The Fullness Of Time - 2007

Set List

Postmodern Spirituals: Musically it re-imagines and revives the Negro spiritual by incorporating jazz sensibilities with soul and black church music. Imagine John Coltrane, Dianne Reeves, Sweet Honey in the Rock and a taste of Stevie Wonder & Grover Washington Jr. With innovative arrangements, fiery improvisation and soothing lyricism. 

Motherless Child Revisited
Deep River
Harriet's Groove
The Departure
In Flight
Freedom Dreaming
Freedom Day
The Struggle
Crystal Sea