I have had no time to post, very little time to lurk and not much time to think of late. Last year six of my musicals got onstage in one place or the another and I wrote two new ones. The best, "Buffalo Soldier" about the courageous African Americans who fought for freedom and helped settle he west premierred last year and is winding up a Black History Month tour next Sunday. It may sound sappy to some, but I am very proud of this show. Here is a synopsis.
Inspired by the true story of Katherine Holmes, a freed slave at Fort Reno during the late nineteenth century, the musical is filled with love, laughter and tears. It features extensive underscoring and songs in the style of Negro spirituals.
Thankful for her job as a maid in the Commander’s residence, Katherine saves to buy a farm to free her family from dependence on plantation owners who take advantage of the freed slaves who farm their land as sharecroppers. Katherine’s plans are interrupted when she meets the nomadic Buffalo Soldier, Benjamin Johnson. When Ben is transferred to build forts and fight Indians in the Southwest, they exchange letters and in poetry, and song they fall in love. They are married in the African tradition at an arbor church in the nearby cross timbers.
The Commander gives Katherine a wild horse and when she hears of the impending 1889 land run she begins to tame the horse for the run. When she discovers she is expecting a child, she is frightened to attempt the dangerous race for land, but is even more determined to achieve independence, not just for herself, for her child.
As the time for the land run approaches, Ben’s superior officer is reassigned and a cruel officer takes command. When the Buffalo Soldiers are ordered to massacre an Indian village of women and children, Ben declares himself a soldier, not a murderer. The night before the great land run as Katherine prepares to race for a claim, Ben decides to give up the nomadic military life and return to Katherine at Fort Reno.
Arriving at Katherine's side too late for the great landrun, he learns her horse has fallen injuring her. With their newborn son in her arms, Katherine shows Ben the deed for the claim she has filed. Knowing it has to be lived on and improved for a year before ownership is legally established, Ben determines to accept a permanent post and live on the land.
Katherine dies in Ben's arms knowing she and her descendants will be both independent and free.