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Vanessa Williams Performs at Miss America Pageant with Broadway Inspirational Voices

Broadway Black

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Three decades after she became the first African American to win the Miss America crown, actress and singer Vanessa Williams finally received an apology from the Miss America organization for the way that it handled the controversy in which she resigned following a nude photo scandal. Miss America CEO Sam Haskell issued the apology on stage at this year’s pageant at which Williams served as head judge.

It was a moment many had been hoping for and believed was long overdue. Although that was the climax of Williams’ appearance at the pageant, another highlight of the evening, and less talked about by mainstream media, was her stirring rendition of Amy Grant’s “Oh How the Years Go By” with the Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV).

The BIV joined Williams center stage for the opening performance of the pageant. Their performance of the moving ballad caused the audience to erupt into thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Broadway Inspirational Voices is a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational choir ensemble made up of actors and musicians from Broadway and off‐Broadway shows such as Aladdin, Book of Mormon, Cinderella, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Motown, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. The BIV’s mission is “strengthening and unifying the New York community through the transcendent power of music. “

The choir was founded in 1994 by Tony nominee, actor, singer, and director Michael McElroy and became the place where he could express his unique arrangements of known and unknown songs in and out of the American gospel and theatre songbooks. In 2005, McElroy received a Grammy nomination for his work on the choir’s holiday CD, “Great Joy: A Gospel Christmas.”

The BIV is next scheduled to perform at Pope Francis’ Mass at Madison Square Garden on September 25. Other performers scheduled to appear include Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Hudson, Kelli O’Hara, Martin Sheen, James (D Train) Williams, and Norm Lewis.

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Events and Happenings

Iconic Entertainer Gregory Hines Honored With a Black Heritage Series Stamp

Drew Shade

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Savion Glover; Maurice Hines, Gregory’s brother; and Daria Hines, Gregory’s daughter Photo courtesy of USPS

The U.S. Postal Service honored iconic entertainer Gregory Hines with a Black Heritage Series stamp in a ceremony on January 28th. As the 42nd entry in the series, the stamp featuring a 1988 photo of a smiling Hines is now available at Post Offices and usps.com. 

At the ceremony Tony Award winner Savion Glover talked about the role Hines played in elevating tap into an art form and the value of his work. Joining him in the celebration were Maurice Hines, actor, dancer, choreographer, and Hines’ brother; Daria Hines, actress, costume designer, and Hines’ daughter; dancers Chloe and Maud Arnold; Tony Waag, the American Tap Dance Foundation’s artistic director, and tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith.

“I don’t exist without this man,” said Glover, “These young people that you see, they aren’t born without this. We are not here today without this.”

The Chief Postal Inspector, Gary Barksdale, who led the ceremony, said “Gregory Hines was an extraordinary artist in every sense of the word. This Forever stamp pays tribute to his life and career as an actor, singer and most importantly, as a performer whose unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into a traditional American form.”

Gregory Hines’ Broadway credits include Eubie!, Sophisticated Ladies, & Comin’ Uptown,  all of which garnered him Tony Award nominations. He became a Tony Award winner for his starring role in “Jelly’s Last Jam” in 1992. In 2003 he passed away at 57 years old from cancer.

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Events and Happenings

Casts of Disney’s The Lion King, Frozen, & Aladdin Broadway Celebrate Black History Month

Drew Shade

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Noah Ricketts, Aisha Jackson, Donald Jones Jr. Photo by Darnell Bennett

It’s a beautiful time to be Black on Broadway. For Black History Month, the casts of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen on Broadway came together in a celebratory photo shoot with photographer Darnell Bennett involving 35+ company cast members.

Take a look at the behind-the-scenes video above and the accompanying photos below.

Cast members included The Lion King‘s Tryphena WadeLawrence Keith Alexander, Brian C. Binion, Lidiwe DlaminiDonna Michelle VaughnLaMar Baylor, Kyle Lamar MitchellBradley GibsonJamal Lee Harris, Elisha BowmansRay MercerL. Steven TaylorBongi DumaKimberly MarableSyndee WintersCameron AmandusPearl KhweziJaysin McCollumAngelica EdwardsIndia Bolds, Bonita HamiltonTshidi Manye, & Bravita Threatt.

Also, Noah RickettsAisha JacksonDonald Jones Jr. of Frozen, and Aladdin‘s Tyler RobertsPaige Williams, Deonte L WarrenTiffany EvaristeMajor AttawayAmber OwensJamie Kasey PattersonApril HollowayKathryn AllisonAriel ReidJuwan CrawleyTrent SaundersDennis Stowe, and Stanley Martin.

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