What do you know about Beverly Glenn-Copeland? The shortest answer is probably not enough. Luckily, we have the film Keyboard Fantasies to remedy the situation. Keyboard Fantasies is the story of an offbeat musical child that grows up to become a forgotten legend, only to be rediscovered decades later. Born to a family of musicians in Philadelphia, Copeland makes his way to college in Montreal while discovering his latent queerness and a short-lived career in folk music that wasn’t ready to accept a black woman (as Copland was identifying at the time) into its embrace.
Struggling in anonymity over the next years, the curious Copeland continues to evolve as a musician and eventually settles on the tools to create the earliest forms of electronic new age music, which culminates in the album the film is named for. As with his other releases, “Keyboard Fantasies” the album fades into obscurity as well. Until it is rediscovered in the 2010s and reignites the passion of both the musician and the world at large a la Rodriguez in 2012’s Searching for Sugar Man.
The film features plenty of vivacious confessionals by the 74 year old Copeland and he surely can spin a yarn. Full of life, lessons, and love, Copeland takes you on a journey of compassion and humility that is sorely missed in today’s world. Presented in a dazzling array of colorific interludes and soundscapes, Keyboard Fantasies is a feel-good experience that delights through a series of interviews and recent concert performances with his much younger multicultural band, Indigo Rising, in the Netherlands’ Le Guess Who? Festival. As if that wasn’t enough, Copeland was also highlighted in this year’s NPR series, Play It Forward, for his seminal work.
– Russell Roots