Full Performance: Amber Riley’s 1+1 Will Leave You Speechless
A few weeks back we shared a snippet of Amber Riley singing a cover of Beyonce’s 1+1. Now the full version of that video has arrived and is sure to take your breath away.
For those unaware of Amber Riley, she starred as Mercedes Jones, the “larger than life” powerhouse singer on the hit Fox show Glee for 7 seasons. Her performance on the show brought her much acclaim, earning her a Screen Actors Guild Award and several nominations from the NAACP Awards and Teen Choice Awards. Her career continued to blossom and in 2016, she played the legendary role of “Addaperle” in the NBC live version of The Wiz. From there she would go on to play the role of “Effie White” in Dreamgirls, at the Savoy theatre in London’s West End. She recently won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical at the 2017 Olivier Awards for her role.
Video provided by 42 Seven Productions #WestEndUnplugged
John Legend and Ariana Grande sing Beauty and the Beast
In a few short days, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will return to the big screen. The live-action remake has been the topic of conversation for some weeks now. Disney’s been the talk of the town, from the uproar in response to having an openly gay character to having to, yet again, defend and define feminism. We’d like to step away from the talking points surrounding Beauty and the Beast and focus on the music.
With every great Disney movie release comes great music. Lion King gave us “The Circle of Life” and Princess and the Frog gave us “Almost There”…right before they made the first black Disney princess a frog the whole movie, but no matter. Before the movies March 17th release, Disney released a new version of the movie’s theme, cleverly titled “Beauty and the Beast”. The movie’s titular song was released March 4th with a moving performance by singers by John Legend and Ariana Grande.
Legend has been inching closer and closer to Broadway, having produced the 2017 premiere of August Wilson’s Jitney and scoring musical films within the past couple years. Grande is no stranger to Broadway, before making her way to TV and pop music, she originated the role of Charlotte in 13 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, she also played Penny Pingleton in Hairspray Live!
Both musicians give an enchanting performance that captures the spirit of this classic tale. In the music video’s short four minutes, we are welcomed into the fantastical Beast’s castle and lulled through Belle and the Beast’s waltz by Legend and Grande’s flawless falsetto. The story’s most precious characters make appearances throughout the song and we are even guided through the video by the tale’s infamous rose. Disney really put their foot in this one!
What are your favorite Disney classics and who are you most excited to see in the remake? You all know my answer, Audra McDonald through and through! Leave your comments below!
WATCH: Cynthia Erivo & Joshua Henry in The Last 5 Years
Last night was something like spectacular. Two of our favorite Broadway stars gave us a performance of a lifetime. Cynthia Erivo & Joshua Henry performed a concert version of one of every Broadway fans favorites, The Last 5 Years. We were privileged to be in attendance last night and will have more on the entire experience shortly but until we can find the words here is a taste of two numbers from last night’s show. The score is just so beautiful and to have it sung by two of Broadway Black’s extraordinary talents is, quite simply, a dream come true.
The performance was a benefit concert for The Brady Center , which is an organization committed to cutting gun-related homicide in half by 2025. This is a cause the show’s composer and director, Jason Robert Brown, is passionate about.
Watch the musical numbers “Still Hurting” and “Moving Too Fast” perfomed by Erivo & Henry below. Comment & tell us what you think!
BONUS CLIP: Cynthia Erivo singing “I Can Do Better Than That”
Anika Noni Rose Sings Be Free By J. Cole + #MLKNow Performances
On Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. at #MLKNow on his national holiday right in the heart of Harlem at Riverside Church. Blackout for Human Rights hosted MLK Now, described as “a special MLK Day event to celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and explore how his message and vision continue to resonate in today’s racial, social and political landscape.”
Inspired by Dr. Kings famous 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence” which was performed at Harlem’s Riverside Church, MLK Now featured historic speeches by many civil rights leaders performed by some of today’s hottest actors and Broadway Black stars — including Actor and Civil Rights Icon Harry Belafonte, Actor and Comedian Chris Rock, Oscar-Winner Octavia Spencer, Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, Actors Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson, Tony Award Winner Anika Noni Rose, Andre Holland, Condola Rashad and Adepero Oduye.
It was said by the host, Ryan Coogler that the original artist of “Be Free,” J. Cole was unable to perform his own song because it was too painful. So, when Ryan Coogler introduced the performance and said that Anika Noni Rose would be singing the song, we fell out. Watch the entire performance below.
We will include more performances from this event as they become available.
Anika Noni Rose – Be Free
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” read by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Shirley Chisholm’s Presenditial Campaign Announcement of 1972 read by Condola Rashad
India.Arie – I Am Light
We’ve uploaded a few of our favorite performances & speeches but there is so much more to see & witness. Watch the entire event or skim thru it below! Don’t forget the great speech by Harry Belafonte at the 2:55:00 mark.
iTuned In: The Color Purple Cast Album
The first time I saw the musical version of The Color Purple I think I was on a date. I say think because through some seating mishap I was placed on one side of a row between two strangers while my beau was all the way at the other end. In hind sight, that was a good thing. The transformative performances of the cast and the music were so powerful I remember crying uncontrollably by intermission. And those strange ladies and I were all holding hands and exchanging tissues. Not good dating etiquette. But that is the power of musicals.
The other gift of musicals is the cast album. While an amazing play can leave you gasping for air, a great musical has you singing and annoying people on the A train all the way back to Harlem. (An unfortunate true story.)
So I was more than a little jazzed to learn that the revival of The Color Purple, which premiered last week at the Bernand B. Jacobs Theatre, announced that a cast album will be recorded this week and released via Broadway Records.
This latest version of Purple brings Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson to the Broadway stage. This woman has not met a medium she can’t tackle. She takes on the complicated role of “Shug Avery.” Might I also opine that Broadway is the sweet spot for a person with that powerful a voice. “Orange is the New Black” star Danielle Brooks takes over the role as “Sophia.”
And then there is Cynthia Erivo as “Celie.” All I can suggest you do is watch her and Ms. Hudson perform the title song to the musical in this official music video for the show.
The Color Purple has gone through its own transformations first as the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by author Alice Walker, to the acclaimed and controversial film directed by Steven Spielberg.
And then the film version’s Sophia, an unknown named Oprah Winfrey put her strength into pushing a Broadway production of Purple in 2005. The story is all about black women and their strength against odds and circumstances that would kill most of us dead.
The revival of Purple premiered at the Jacobs Theatre Dec 10th, 2015. To see what Broadway Black thought of the show click here. The cast album is set for a January 29th release date. But…you can pre-order the music now. And click here to order your tickets to The Color Purple now.
We Were There: The Color Purple on Broadway
I was one of the lucky audience members in attendance for The Color Purple on Broadway, and what a wonderful time it was. I was brought to tears multiple times in the show. I laughed at the jokes and I couldn’t help but move my feet to the rhythmic music. It was heaven.
The first thing I noticed were the chairs that made the set. Everything was completely wooden. There was a huge two-story wooden wall covered in wooden chairs that would later be taken off the wall by members of the cast and serve as some of the only props in the entire show. The set itself was simplistic in its appearance, but simple is not the adjective that I would use to describe this show. In fact, it was far from it. I would say the minimalistic set is what makes the show so great. Often times we can be distracted by the spectacle of Broadway, but this production strips it bare. Focusing on the relationships between characters, the songs and the message that the musical is trying to tell us. As a theatre buff and a teacher I can appreciate getting to the heart of something.
There are also some noticeable changes to the 2005 production and some additions made that were approved by Alice Walker, so if you watched the 2005 Broadway run or the film expect there to be some differences.
Also, can I just take a minute to talk about Cynthia Erivo as “Celie”? Okay, I will. This woman puts her heart and soul into this role and bears it all on the stage. From the hair to the clothes to some of the acting choices she makes, she is enchantingly believable. You cry when she cries, you dance when she dances, and you laugh when she laughs. And that voice? The minute the entire audience heard Ms. Erivo sing, I knew I was going to GET MY LIFE! And she carried that feeling throughout the night. I know I won’t be the only one to say this, but Cynthia Erivo is a STAR in the making over here, her Broadway debut has been nothing short of wonderful. Of course she is fully supported by the rest of the cast. In her Broadway debut, Danielle Brooks truly shines as the no nonsense Sofia. She brings charm and humor to the character and absolutely kills “Hell No!” Speaking of Broadway debuts, it’s no secret Jennifer Hudson can sing and that hasn’t changed with her sultry performance as “Shug Avery”!
Isaiah Johnson as “Mister,” Joaquina Kalukango as “Nettie” and Kyle Scatliffe as “Harpo” also shine in their roles. Kyle and Danielle’s chemistry is unmatched. The ensemble cast ( Phoenix Best, Dwayne Clark, Lawrence Clayton, Carrie Compere, Patrice Covington, Adrianna Hicks, Bre Jackson, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevyn Morrow, Ken Robinson, Antoine L. Smith, Carla R. Stewart, Akron Watson and Rema Webb) is just as talented and it altogether makes The Color Purple an unforgettable experience.
The Color Purple opens December 10th at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre in New York City, tickets can be purchased here.