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Illinois Arts Council Supports Launching Of Black Voices In Cabaret

An online public forum on the history of Black cabaret in Chicago will stream on Sunday, March 7.

Illinois Arts Council Supports Launching Of Black Voices In Cabaret

Working In Concert, the two-year-old performing arts collaborative, has been awarded $9,200 by the Illinois Art Council to underwrite a premiere concert by Black Voices in Cabaret to launch this network of African-American performers. The concert "Healing through Song" has distinct 30-40 minute episodes that will stream on three consecutive Sundays in March: the 14th, 21st, and 28th, at 3pm.

This concert is emceed by magician and singer David Stephens and vocalist Arlene Armstrong and being recorded at PianoForte Studio and Epiphany Center for the Arts.

The premiere concert brings together two dozen artists including opera singer Gwendolyn Brown, classical soprano Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, cabaret notables Lynne Jordan and Cynthia Clarey, Natalie Douglas ("Princess of Birdland" in Manhattan), Chicagoan of the Year actress E. Faye Butler, jazz singers Bobbi Wilsyn, Margaret Murphy and Ava Logan, drag queen Coco Sho-Nell, rap artists Che Rhymefest and Seany-Doo, and many more.

According to singer Natalie Douglas, "We've always been here, and we've always been making music in the cabaret world. But those weren't the pictures we saw in the movies or on television. It is only through us making a fuss and saying 'I need to be represented there, too' that people will be open to the idea that an evening of cabaret isn't just pretty white ladies in sparkling gowns."

David Stephens, the Managing Director of BVIC, explains, "Our mission is to showcase Black performers, educate new audiences about the history of Chicago cabaret as seen through Black eyes, and uplift its repertoire beyond the standard American Songbook."

"We are exploring the rich variety of performing styles, and highlighting both new and established performers from Chicago and beyond. We invite new audiences to get exposed to the art of cabaret and experience the intimacy of live performance."

How does one bring opera, musical theatre, rap or R&B into the smaller confines of the cabaret room? Gwen Brown, Natalie Douglas, Cynthia Clarey, and Cornelius Johnson will lead master classes open to the public to explore the process of song interpretation for all kinds of singers. Their workshops will be announced for the second half of February.

An online public forum on the history of Black cabaret in Chicago will stream on Sunday, March 7 to highlight 100 years of Black music and the seminal role played by Chicago's Black performers in the history of cabaret as an art form.

All events will be available at http://blackvoicesincabaret.org/rsvp. A minimal donation is requested.


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