By the time soul singer Ryan Shaw hit the stage of “America’s Got Talent” he had already earned three Grammy nominations. In addition he played the role of the indomitable Stevie Wonder on Broadway in Motown: The Musical based on the life of Berry Gordy . Motown: The Musical is scheduled to return to Broadway in the summer of 2016.
In his initial audition for the judges, Shaw belted out a powerful rendering of the Beatles “Yesterday” prompting judge’s Howard Stern and Heidi Klum to emphatically send him on to the next round. Shaw, who is a native of Decatur, Georgia, has been singing since the age of 5. As the son of a Pentecostal Minister, Shaw did not begin singing pop music until he left home and began working at the now closed Motown Café in New York City. His star continued to rise as he toured with Tyler Perry’s I Know I’ve Been Changed.
After touring with the play, Shaw joined doo-wop group the Fabulous Soul Shakers. His first album, “This is Ryan Shaw”, for Columbia, earned him a 2008 Grammy nomination for “I Am Your Man.” In 2011 Shaw received another Grammy nomination for “In Between,” and in 2014 received his third for “Yesterday”. Shaw also snagged an audition with Berry Gordy and was then cast as Stevie Wonder. Shaw says of playing that iconic role “Initially it was very frightening because as an up and coming artist, I had the fear of failing him in some way. I had come to terms that I will never be Stevie and so my challenge became not how to imitate him, but rather how to embody him. It took pressure off and gave me a sense of freedom to be Stevie to each audience every night. It is a brilliant honor each and every time.”
On his second performance for “America’s Got Talent”, Shaw performed Bonnie Rait’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. Unfortunately, the judges found his performance less than stellar and he did not advance to the quarterfinals. Fans on Twitter strongly disagreed with the judge’s ruling and voiced their support of the charismatic singer.
@thisisRyanShaw Saw your performance on #AGT & your voice is amazing! Will be keeping my eye on you…something good is coming your way!!!
@thisisRyanShaw I hope you stay encouraged. Your voice is amazing. I am downloading your albums as we speak! #shouldvewentthrough
Shaw took the time out to reply to many of the fans on Twitter with grace and humility.
Thanks for the love #AGT #JudgeCuts #teamryanshaw https://t.co/KTE8guUPAL
This made me smile. I believe music should move people and that why I do it. Thanks for the love #AGT #JudgeCuts https://t.co/QkkLU5wQP8
There is no doubt that appearing on the show further grew Shaw’s fan base and we are quite sure that we haven’t heard the last from this talented singer.
Brennyn Lark, Allison Semmes, & More Featured in Darkness RISING: Live 2! A Mental Health Benefit Concert
Join the Black Broadway community tonight, April 8th, as they perform inspirational cover songs at Darkness RISING: Live 2. The concert benefits Darkness RISING Nonprofit, an organization founded by Carlita Victoria, focuses on mental wellness in the Black community. Audience members will enjoy songs of hope from a range of genres: musical theatre, pop, R&B, and gospel under the musical direction of David Rowen of David Rowen Creative.
Darkness RISING Nonprofit is a mental health project with the goal of inspiring conversations about mental health, and helping to create access to mental health resources in the Black community in an effort to tell our stories and erase the stigma. The project was created as a means of Carlita facing her personal struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. African Americans are 20% more likely to have serious psychological distress than other Americans. The project includes a newly released album on iTunes, a visual album on YouTube, live concerts, and free wellness workshops.
The event will be held at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn at 7 pm (doors open at 6:30pm) Located at 361 Metropolitan Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The evening will include vendors, raffle prizes, a silent auction, and a full bar. $20 In advance, $25 At the door $40 VIP includes: Wristband, free drink, premier seating, swag bag, cast meet & greet. The show will be hosted by Broadway Black’s Drew Shade.
Tickets can be purchased at bkknittingfactory.com.
The cast features soloists:
Brennyn Lark, (DREAMGIRLS WEST END, LES MISERABLES BROADWAY)
Liisi LaFontaine (DREAMGIRLS WEST END, THE WINNER IS ABC)
Allison Semmes (MOTOWN BROADWAY, BOOK OF MORMON)
Gabrielle Reid (BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL, HAIRSPRAY BROADWAY, THE COLOR PURPLE NATIONAL TOUR),
Kris Roberts (BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL, FAME NATIONAL TOUR),
Jasmin Richardson (GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, THE BODYGUARD NATIONAL TOUR)
JoNathan Michael (DREAMGIRLS INTERNATIONAL TOUR, FAME NATIONAL TOUR)
Cedrina Shari (BONEY M),
Anita Welch (AVENUE Q NATIONAL TOUR)
Gerard Williams (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at North Carolina Theatre)
Nattalyee Randall (ROCKTOPIA)
Tamala Baldwin (DREAMGIRLS at NSMT)
Darkness RISING Founder, Carlita Victoria (HAIRSPRAY at Paramount Theatre).
The ensemble features Vlad Dorson, Valton Jackson (HALFTIME at PAPERMILL PLAYHOUSE), Ashley Jeudy (SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE), Nichollette Shorts (PHOENIX RISING), Sheniqua Trotman (DREAMGIRLS at IVORYTON THEATRE), David LaMarr (LITTLE MERMAID at TUACAHN), and Tatianna Mott (AVENUE Q at SMITHTOWN PAC).
Band memebers include: Ian Jess (Bass), Mark ‘Lace’ Gibbs (Guitar), Quinton Robinson (Drums), and David Rowen (Piano/Musical Director)
Darkness RISING: A Mental Health Awareness Project is sponsored, in part, by the
Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural
Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) and Fractured Atlas. For more info: darknessrisingproject.org. Follow: @darknessrisingproject.
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🌟 ALL STAR CAST 🌟 These amazing vocalists will be performing at Darkness RISING live 2. You will not want to miss this performance on April 8th. Link in bio for tickets. _____ Monday 4/8 7pm Knitting Factory Williamsburg _____ $20 in advance $25 at the door _____ $40 VIP: + Swag Bag + Premier seating + Free drink + VIP photo + Wristband + Cast meet & greet This event is made possible by @nyscouncilonthearts, administered by @bkartscouncil. _____ #promo #rise #Riseup #discount #dontmissout #nyc #nycevents #eventscalendar #livemusic #livesingers #inspirationalmusic #thingstodoinnyc #benefitconcert #musicheals #Brooklyn #citylife #knittingfactory #nightlife #nycnights #BroadwayBlack #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #Blackmentalhealth #DarknessRISING
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As someone who does their best to rise up every day in spite of depression & anxiety, mental healthiness, access to resources, and conversations particularly centering Black people are important to me. The @darknessrisingproject is doing the good work and I’m honored to be hosting their next benefit concert to further bring awareness and support for those in need. Join #broadwayblack along with some of Broadway’s finest voices April 8th, 2019 7 PM @knittingfactorybk to be uplifted and encouraged and also support the awesome organization that is @darknessrisingproject! 🔗 Link on bio for tickets! Thank you, @itscarlitav for your tireless efforts! What you’re doing is so important and necessary! That is #broadwayblack! 💜🙌🏽✊🏽
Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah
There is limited seating left for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public Theater. Opening today, Thursday, March 7th and running until Sunday, March 10th in the Public Studio is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“It’s been 936 days since Marion’s family has had clean water. When local activists file a class action lawsuit against the city, Marion—a third-generation employee at General Motors—must decide how best to support her two daughters, sister, and mother while lead seeps into the community, their home, and their bodies. As corrosive memories and secrets rise among them, the family wonders if they’ll ever be able to filter out the truth.”
2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright makes her Public Theater debut with CULLUD WATTAH directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones; the cast includes Deonna Bouye (Marion), Alana Raquel Bowers (Reesee), Caroline Stefanie Clay (Big Ma), Nikiya Mathis (Ainee), and Kara Young (Plum).
The creative team includes Production Stage Manager Gregory Fletcher, Stage Manager Priscilla Villanueva, and Movement Director Adesola Osakalumi. Along with scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, Costume Design by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and sound design by Megan Culley
We believe in this work so much we’re giving away 4 tickets to the performances on March 10th. 2 tickets to the matinee and two the evening performance thanks to our founder Drew Shade and actress/playwright Jocelyn Bioh. Go to our Instagram to find out how!
Also, find out more about how you can help the Flint Water Crisis and support this show HERE.
Listen to Erika talk about her work on an episode of Off Book Podcast below