The Sultana – April 27, 1865
“Burn down the wheel, Burn down the Riverboat… ”
In 2008, these lyrics came to Jeff Stachyra while sketching out new song ideas and it led him on a journey to find a backstory. What he discovered was a story lost in the shadows of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the wake of America’s bloodiest war… the story of America’s worst maritime disaster.
What began as a single chorus in his head became a collection of songs, a soundtrack inspired by history. The journey led Jeff beyond books and the internet. A road trip to Memphis, St. Louis and other locations involved in the history of the forgotten riverboat uncovered more details to the tragedy. Inspired by his travels, Jeff crafted a collection of original songs creating a musical telling of the Sultana disaster.
It was at his studio (NewClear Studios, West Windsor, NY) Jeff enlisted the talents of many local musicians that he has worked with over the years adding instrumentation that frame these tales from the Sultana.
On the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” he was dedicated to achieving a “period correct” historical sound from the mid 1800’s. As a result, Jeff recorded the playback of the choir in an 1860s church in Pennsylvania with the accompaniment of an antique pump organ also from that period to re-create the proper sound of the era.
Additionally, through exhaustive research, Jeff discovered sheet music for an orchestral piece called “Sultana” written in 1879, 14 years after the disaster. The full orchestral recording included in the bonus tracks is possibly the first recorded version of this waltz.
The Sultana – April 27, 1865 is an album intended not only to entertain the listener through this tragic tale, but also to encourage the listener to learn more about this lost piece of American history and remember the story…
The story of The Sultana.
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