The only reason I picked up Dawn Upshaw’s 1996 album, White Moon: Songs to Morpheus, is because I had gotten into Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman at the time. Upshaw’s album has nothing to do with Gaiman’s King of Dreams, but I liked the tenuous connection anyway.
While I don’t own much of Upshaw’s own discography, she appears on a number of other albums I own. Her recording of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 with David Zinman and the London Sinfonietta is essential for any collection. She’s recorded with Kronos Quartet a number of times, and I believe she may have done some backup vocals on Audra McDonald’s How Glory Goes.
The first time I heard of Upshaw back in the late ’80s, she was a rising star in the opera world, but it’s her championing of modern music that set her apart from other singers. In addition to such early music composers as Claudio Monteverdi and John Dowland, White Moon also includes works by George Crumb, Ruth Crawford Seeger and Joseph Schwantner.
Upshaw has a clear, appealing voice, sweet and unmuddied. But don’t take my word for it.