Nelson said he wanted his painting to be “a stylistic montage” that honors “the great Harlem Renaissance painters: Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and Palmer Hayden.”
Also included in the beautiful illustration are Black cultural giants Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the Nicholas Brothers.
Audra McDonald brings her acclaimed portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Broadway smash “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” to HBO, with the exclusive presentation scheduled to debut Saturday, March 12, 2016.
Filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special features McDonald in her history-making, tour de force performance as the jazz icon.
Originally written for off-Broadway by Lanie Roberston in 1987, the production tells Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including “God Bless the Child,”“What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”
McDonald made history and became Broadway’s most decorated performer when she won her sixth Tony Award, for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” in 2014. In addition to setting the record for most competitive wins by an actor, she also became the first person to receive awards in all four acting categories. The show’s run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway was extended four times due to high demand.
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” is directed by Lonny Price, who also directed the Broadway production, and produced by Allen Newman and Two Hands Entertainment. It was originally produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.
The special will also be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO.
The network has released a first teaser which is embedded below:
When Billie Holiday sang, history attests, her audiences tended to clam up. Even in the bustling nightclubs where she mostly performed, Holiday often insisted on total quiet before she would open her mouth. The quiet usually held, as one of the great singers of the last century turned jazz songs and standards into searching, and searing, portraits of life and love gone wrong that cast a shimmering spell.
When Audra McDonald takes to the stage and pours her heart into her voice in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a similar sustained hush settles over the Circle in the Square, where the show opened on Broadway on Sunday night for a limited run. With her plush, classically trained soprano scaled down to jazz-soloist size, Ms. McDonald sings selections from Holiday’s repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration.
Although Ms. McDonald, a five-time Tony winner and an accomplished recitalist, has her own natural authority onstage, in this show, she submerges her identity in Holiday’s as an act of loving tribute to an artist whose difficult career exacted a painful price. Holiday is as well known now for the grim travails of her short life — she died at the age of 44, her voice spent, her body destroyed by addiction to alcohol and heroin — as she is revered for the legacy of recordings she left behind.
We hear much (too much) of this sorry story during the show, written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, and first produced Off Broadway in 1986. The year is 1959, just months before Holiday died, and the show is set at the club of the title in Philadelphia, a city that, as Holiday notes, she had reason to loathe. It was the site of her trial and conviction for drug possession, which led to a stint in prison and the revoking of her New York cabaret card, limiting her opportunities to perform in the city during the latter years of her career.
Audra McDonald will be spending a lot of time on Broadway over the next couple of years. Weeks after announcing she will star in a revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Night, Mother opposite Oprah Winfrey, McDonald is set to play Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. The four-time Tony Award-winning actress will play the late jazz icon in the show, which is set in 1959 in a seedy Philadelphia bar, and relives Billie Holiday’s last performance, taking place only four months before her death at age 44.
Lady Day is set to go in front of audiences later this year, making it McDonald’s next turn on the stage. Night, Mother will debut in the 2015-2016 season.
All eyes are on Baltimore this week as the Ravens took the Super Bowl title and Beyoncé cranked out perhaps the most electrifying halftime performance in history. It’s a great time to recognize that “Charm City” – a nickname created by then Mayor William Donald Schaefer and a bunch of ad agencies to boost the city’s national profile – is once again on the map as a vacation destination.
In honor of Black History Month, here’s a list of Baltimore’s events and exhibitions that pay tribute to the African-American men and women who helped shape the nation. Baltimore is a city shaped by the contributions of African-American visionaries including the likes of world famous jazz singer Billie Holiday; great orator Frederick Douglass, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and female abolitionist and “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.
“Girl with Flag,” Bryan Collier
“The Mountaintop” and Beyond
“The Mountaintop” CENTERSTAGE Through Feb. 24 The Lorraine Hotel. April 1968. In room 306, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. unwinds and prepares. A visit from a hotel maid offers welcome diversion and a challenging new perspective – but also raises profound and surprising questions.
Already a worldwide sensation and recently hailed in a star-studded Broadway production, Katori Hall’s new play receives its Baltimore premiere.
You’ve heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos have the ability to tell complex stories, convey important information and elicit emotional responses from viewers who may know nothing of the subject matter. One frame can change the world. Think of the iconic photographs that have come to symbolize a movement, a way of being or a slice of life.
Photos offer us a peek into unknown worlds and, in some cases, worlds we know all too well. Chronicling our lives and society, they capture history and the profound experiences of a complex world. The Johnson Publishing Co.’s Ebony Collection, now available to the public for the first time, does just that. This historic photo archive offers 2,000 photos taken over the last 70 years, documenting the rich and layered black experience in the United States.