You may remember the Tony nominated actress de’Adre Aziza, for her role in Passing Strange or more recently in A Night With Janis Joplin. If you’re a Broadway Black veteran you may also remember her from the wildly popular Detroit ’67 at the National Black Theatre. Either way, once you’ve seen her you’ll never forget her and she’s making sure of that with a new work titled Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story, at The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center.
Aziza portrays legendary songwriter Bert Berns’ first love Candace Carmichael — an older, wiser and more sophisticated seductress who sweeps him off of his feet. The couple’s racial differences are what initially bring them together, but ultimately tears them apart. This show will run until
August 31st Sept 14th (extended) at the Signature. Bert Berns wrote the song “Piece of My Heart” which eventually became a Janis Joplin staple.
Ironically, even though Aziza has been involved with the development of Piece of My Heart for a few years, its comes after the closing of the Broadway show A Night With Janis Joplin, which was suppose to head Off-Broadway shortly after but in a shocking twist (right…) the powers that be pulled the plug and scrapped the revival two days before it was due to open. Everyone was out of work unexpectedly. Aziza was not apart of the revival but knew several people who were and she just couldn’t take it. She took to her Facebook, in her frustration and replied:
“I know a stankin’ rotten fish when I taste one, I don’t care how much you bathe it in OldBay,”
“In whose accounting meeting was it decided that a show that lost so much money on Broadway would be just fine off-OFF-east-off Broadway in a day and age where BROADWAY SHOWS that pull in $800,000 a week or less are sometimes seen as failures? Please explain.”
In a recent interview with Playbill she talks about weather she was worried about the backlash for speaking her heart:
“Ummm, I did not really care. Because here’s the thing with my life: It’s kind of like the Frank Sinatra song ‘That’s Life’ when he runs through everything he’s been. I can’t be concerned with what other people think whether they are producers or whether they are other actors. When something is heavy on my spirit, I have to express that whether it’s art or whether it’s something controversial. I really do not care… But I say, if this is the end of this career, then so be it. “
She had a lot more to say check out the entire interview HERE and get a good look at her new show A Piece of My Heart below.
Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech
So, I have a question.
In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?
Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.
The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”
Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.
Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.
The days of shut up and sing are over.
Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:
Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!
Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.
From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.
Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.
If that’s not the truth.
Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.
For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.
Jazmine Sullivan: The Next Singer-Songwriter To Write A Broadway Musical?
We recently caught up with Jazmine Sullivan at The HeLa Project, a multimedia exhibition inspired by the HBO film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Like the rest of us, Jazmine is in awe of the under-told story of Henrietta Lacks and her instrumental role in modern medicine. We further asked about why she got involved with the project and she said: “Anyway I can give light to an extraordinary woman like that, I’m there.”
Some of the integral women in bringing this story to light have their roots in Broadway: Tony Award-winning producer Oprah Winfrey, who not only stars in the film, but also credited as executive producer, and Tony Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who portrays the title character.
We wouldn’t be Broadway Black if we didn’t keep it real.
Let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of 11-year-old Jazmine singing “Home” like she wrote the piece, so we got to asking, and it turns out Jazmine wouldn’t mind putting her pen to paper to create a musical for the Broadway stage.
She said performing on Broadway isn’t in the plans for the near future but, “You never know! I love writing and creating characters!”
God!? Oprah!?!? Stephen Byrd & Alia Jones-Harvey?!?! Who’s going to snatch this up?
Until then, it sounds like we have some new music to expect. What kind of musical would you like to see from Ms. Sullivan? Sound off below in the comments!
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