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“Arguably the most important commission of Simon’s career so far” - 

The New York Times


New album brea(d)th out September 1 via Decca/Universal Music Canada


“Brea(d)th is a moving, yearning, admonition for repair. It was made by two American sons in honor of George, and in reflection of the fellowship of the gone too soon…"



Listen to brea(d)th here:


1 SEPTEMBER 2023 (TORONTO, ON) – Today, GRAMMY-nominated musician Carlos Simon releases his new album, brea(d)th. The landmark project was written in the months following George Floyd’s murder as a direct response to America’s unfulfilled promises and history of systematic oppression against Black Americans. Simon wrote the work alongside activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, who provides a spoken word libretto that considers bread, as in value, breath, as in lifeforce, and breadth, as in the radius of American promise. In preparation for writing brea(d)th, Simon and Joseph made several trips to the Twin Cities, connecting with local artists, activists and community members. The pair took a pilgrimage to George Floyd Square where, among others, they met with Angela Harrelson, George Floyd’s aunt, which allowed them to learn more about Floyd’s personal life. 


brea(d)th continues Simon’s dedication to telling the rich history and stories of Black Americans, building from his own life experiences and the accounts of others. He sees himself as a conduit, a vessel used by God to deliver a musical message to the people. Simon’s 2022 debut LP Requiem for the Enslaved is a musical tribute to commemorate the stories of 272 enslaved men, women and children sold in 1838 by Georgetown University. The work debuted at the Library of Congress on Nov. 5, 2021, and earned Simon a “Best Contemporary Classical Composition” nomination at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards. 


Simon recently told the New York Times that many of his tales offer “a positive message, the positive response to the struggle,” like “Portrait of a Queen,” which celebrates Black womanhood and “Breathe,” inspired by the theology of Howard Thurman. Through brea(d)th, Simon attempts to provide an antidote and asks listeners to consider an equitable America. The fifth and final movement, “breadth,” is a tension-building reflection led by Joseph’s impassioned libretto — “So much work has been done…Who does the work that’s still left?”


While the work was composed with Minneapolis in mind, its message transcends far beyond the city walls. brea(d)th’s five movements include the prologue, sections titled “bread,” “breath,” and “breadth,” and “Elegy,” a piece Simon composed in 2015. Subtitled “A Cry from the Grave,” the lament is dedicated to those who have been murdered wrongfully by an oppressive power; namely Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The predominant essence of “Elegy” is sorrowful and contemplative, yet there are moments of extreme hope represented by bright consonant harmonies. The song's inclusion in brea(d)th serves as a powerful reminder to maintain hope in the face of adversity. 


brea(d)th was recorded live over the course of a three-day world premiere earlier this May at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall. The concerts were performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and conducted by Jonathan Taylor Rush.


brea(d)th Tracklist:


  1. prologue
  2. breath
  3. elegy
  4. bread
  5. breadth


Carlos Simon, composer

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, librettist



Marc Bamuthi Joseph, spoken word artist

Minnesota Orchestra

Minnesota Chorale, choir

Twin Cities Choral Partners, choir

29:11, choir

Jonathan Taylor Rush, conductor



GRAMMY-nominated Carlos Simon is a multi-genre composer and performer who is a passionate advocate for diversity in music. Carlos, whose father wanted him to be a minister, describes music making as a pulpit where he can deliver messages and minister to those listening. As winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence 2021 and Composer-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center, he sees himself as a conduit, a vessel used by God to deliver music to the people. Listed in the Kennedy Center’s Next 50’, his recent commissions have been granted by the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Kennedy Center, Minnesota Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, PBS, and the Washington National Opera as well as his work being set to ballets by Washington National Ballet and American Ballet Theater.