Tamar Davis has a voice that makes you want to sit down, shut up, and listen. It doesn’t glide, it soars. It isn’t bound by a genre, it’s unique in style and choice.
We recently had a chat with Tamar and she let us in on her experience working with Tyler Perry, “The Voice,” and on the Motown: The Musical Tour.
I don’t know about y’all, but Tamar Davis alone was my reason for tuning into “The Voice.” I mean, did you hear her make Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” into a brand new song? MY GOD (Watch below). Tamar went on to be part of Team Christina, and although she did not win the competition, we were lucky to hear her voice in a live capacity again. From our conversation, we have Mr. Perry’s encouragement to thank for her presence on “The Voice.” Apparently there’s more to credit to be given his way!
“Tyler Perry is a man of vision and integrity!”
Tamar has been working with Mr. Perry since 2008 and has been featured in The Marriage Counselor, Laugh to Keep from Crying, Madea’s Big Happy Family, A Madea Christmas, and Madea Gets a Job.
Reflecting on his leadership, she says:
“You’re either going to know why you’re there or miss why you’re there. If he wants something excellent, he wants it excellent or he doesn’t want it done at all.”
This level of expectations seems to be cultivated from a level of freedom that Mr. Perry chooses to operate in. His productions are non-union, and instead of looking at this as a taboo, Davis compares her experience to one filled with freedom. “He has the right to be free,” she says; and that he is.
It’s undeniable that Tyler Perry has made a significant print in the world of the arts. “Where there’s a gap, there’s someone meant to fill that gap,” Tamar explained. “Who would have ever thought a man of his caliber—African American– would have his own studios competing with the biggest of the biggest studios? You have to applaud it.”
Perry has brought plays and music to an audience that might not normally go to Broadway. While Tamar has grown and thrived in this space, we were also thrilled to see her on the Motown: The Musical tour as Gladys Knight and an understudy for “Diana Ross”.
Having worked with many Tyler Perry plays and the Motown tour for two years, Davis walked us through the differences between the union and non-union work. She cited a longer rehearsal period, 401k and benefit options, as well as the protection provided by being in a union, as the main differences.
When asked if she would do another Tyler Perry play again, she was quick to say yes! However, she is no longer able to work in those productions, as she is part of the union.
Reflecting one last time, she said: “I am a true believer in trusting your spirit. It’s one of the best things I ever did.”
Well, we’re glad for your time with Mr. Perry. If that work and experience takes you down the path of television and film, that you desire to trek (and hopefully back to Broadway), we approve!
A woman of great talent and great heart, Davis lends her talents to our next generation of artists through her fine arts academy. She advises students to “make sure you work with people with great vision and great work. Hone in on your skills. A good role in a good piece can change your whole life.”
Most recently, Tamar held a live concert at The Oak in Houston, Texas. She says her second album is on the way and to be on the look out for her presence in college tours and festivals. Catch her music on iTunes and TamarDavis.com
Photo Exclusive: Step into The Light with Broadway Black
Have you seen The Light by Loy A. Webb at MCC Theater? If you haven’t, then you need to and Broadway Black has got you. Join us on SUNDAY MARCH 3rd for the BWAYBLK Experience!
Use code BWAYBLACKMCC and pay $35 for any seat on Mar 3 at the 7:30 performance
Not every marriage proposal goes as planned. LOY A. WEBB’s THE LIGHT introduces us to RASHAD and GENESIS on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives, but their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface in this gripping two-character drama. Can their relationship survive the growing divide between them over who–and what–to believe?
Also, get into this amazing photo series of playwright Loy A. Webb & the cast of her play The Light. Photos by Curtis Brown were taken in the new elegantly designed and strategically welcoming Robert W. Wilson MCC theater space. Located in midtown New York on 52nd and 10th ave (511 W 52nd ST
New York, NY 10019)
On another tip, some really dope creatives will do a talkback after the Saturday matinee performance that you might be interested in attending. Make sure to RSVP.
Panelists include: Nissy Aya, Cristina Pitter, Alicia Rodis & Kavita Mehra
THIS WEEKEND SAT FEB 23rd
LOY A. WEBB’s THE LIGHT at MCC Theater delves deeply into one couples’ reckoning with an encounter with sexual violence that has left audiences asking: as a partner, a family member, a friend, how do we support sexual assault survivors? And what responsibility do artists have to create work that is trauma-informed? On SAT FEB 23 at 4:00 PM for an in-depth conversation about the power of allyship rooted in love and healing – in our lives and on our stages – in the face of trauma.
SAT FEB 23 at 4PM
THE ROBERT W. WILSON MCC THEATER SPACE
511 W52 ST
A Superhero On & Off The Stage, Camille A. Brown Brings ink
Camille A. Brown‘s dance company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, tours nationally and internationally and will be presenting six performances featuring the debut of ink at The Joyce Theater NYC Feb 5-10th 2019.
Propelled by the live rhythms and sounds of traditional African and handmade instruments, Camille A. Brown’s ink celebrates the rituals, gestures, and traditions of the African diaspora. Highlighting themes of brotherhood, community, and resilience, the work seeks to reclaim African American narratives and is the final installment of Brown’s dance theater trilogy about identity.
In addition to her company works, Ms. Brown brings her passion for storytelling to her award-winning choreography for Broadway, Television, and Off-Broadway. Productions include Tony Award Winning Once On This Island, (Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Chita Rivera award nominations), Emmy Award Winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC, A Streetcar Named Desire, Choir Boy, the upcoming Magic Mike The Musical, PAL JOEY.
We had the chance to probe a little bit into the world of Camille A. Brown, and we’re grateful for the insight and wisdom with which she was able to bless us. Check out the interview below along with an excerpt from ink.
Broadway Black (BB): After forming the idea, what was the process of building ink?
Camille A. Brown (CAB): After the creative process for BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, I held a desire to dig even deeper and tell more stories of ritual, gestural vocabulary, and traditions of the African Diaspora. I was immediately drawn to two albums that had a significant impact on me when I was growing up. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill, and Like Water for Chocolate by Common. I tasked myself with creating a movement language that embodied the same raw authenticity, and vulnerability that fuels those lyrics and music.
As I began to develop the concept for ink, I wanted the dancers to represent superheroes. I couldn’t figure out why I had the urge to play with this idea until I read Question Bridge: Black Males in America. One of the men interviewed said, “I see Black people as comic book heroes because they always keep rising.” That was it! It is about showing that in our basic survival, and natural attributes we have superhuman powers. Powers to shift, overcome, transform, and persevere even within an often hostile environment. The seven sections of ink represent super powers of spirituality, history and heritage, the celebration of the Black female body, Black love, brotherhood, exhaustion, and community.
The process involves a deep collaboration with the dancers and my direction is guided by their choice making.
The space is very organic and fueled by research. My dancers, musicians, dramaturgs, and I are in constant dialogue throughout the process about the work and how it’s progressing. We don’t move forward unless we’re all on the same page.
We are building the work together. As a disclaimer, I let everyone know the process will be exceptionally tedious. Like a fine comb, I go through each beat, gage the temperature of storylines, and make sure the movement and music are always in conversation (whether aligned or in contrast).
BB: What made you want to start your own dance company and how have you sustained?
CAB: I found my love of choreography in college because I struggled with body image, and found that creating my own voice was a safe and empowering space. After graduating, I danced with Ronald K. Brown/Evidence for 5 seasons and during my second year with The Company, a friend from college (Amy Page) sent me a flyer for the Hubbard Street 2 competition which picks 3 choreographers to create work on the Company. I was chosen! That gave me the encouragement to pursue choreography. My first idea was to take an alias like female writers used to do because even at 22, I knew the playing field was not leveled and women (particularly black women) did not get as much exposure as male choreographers. Dance is revealing and vulnerable so taking an alias wasn’t a realistic option. People would have to see me as I am, but I also needed the confidence to withstand the obstacles. Not only that, having a company seemed daunting.
Ron wore so many hats. He was the director, choreographer, teacher, and also took on administrative duties. He never got a break. I wasn’t confident I could handle all of the duties.
I set work on other companies, but soon realized it wasn’t for me. 1-4 weeks working with a Company wasn’t enough time for me to really hone my skills, find my voice, and discover my personal creative process. I desired a more intimate relationship and space with my dancers and collaborators. I had my first show at Joyce SoHo in 2006, and committed to having a company in 2010.
What sustains CABD is my team. I have a company agent (Pamela Green), Managing Director (Indira Goodwine), Company Manager (Michelle Fletcher), and a production team who holds things down.
In the beginning, I was doing ALL the jobs! As time went on, my team slowly formed. It’s really about patience and perseverance. Nothing happened over night and everything is a progression.
BB: How have you had to be a superhero in your own life personally and professionally?
Last year, I had a life-threatening experience. My appendix ruptured on tour. Appendicitis is when they remove your appendix before it ruptures, but mine actually did and the fluid was in my system for at least a week. I survived the “fatal” stage- which the doctors told me isn’t common. This started a very long year and a half which included 4 hospital stints and two surgeries (my second one was in April). This all happened during Once on This Island (I was in the hospital the first week of rehearsal and had my first surgery during tech), Jesus Christ Superstar Live, and my Company touring. I had to access my “superpowers” and push through, but thankfully I had my team and community to help me.
I’m going to be writing about the entire ordeal because it was such an integral part of my life. People see the “success”, but if they only knew the hardships I had to overcome to get to the other side.
Being a Black female Choreographer and Director is hard. People ask me to do I feel like I’ve arrived. Absolutely not. I’m still Black and a woman- two underrepresented groups- particularly in theater. The playing field is still not leveled and I’m clear I have to work twice as hard.
I’ve had to build up strength and confidence. It is an ongoing process of gathering those superpowers. In many spaces, I’m sometimes the only woman (I was the only woman on the creative team for Jesus Christ Superstar Live), and the only black person in some rooms.
Recently two black girls at different events asked me the same exact question: How do you navigate spaces where you’re the only one.
It’s quite easy to feel intimated and shrink yourself. I know I have done that in the past. Now, I’ve found if I think about the black women before me in similar spaces, black women who are currently in similar spaces, and the next generation of black women coming after me, it makes me more confident. When it’s not just about you, it becomes a responsibility.
And even when I don’t feel like I have any superpowers, this happens…
and it refuels and encourages me to keep going. Someone is always watching.