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Ty Defoe, Ronvé O'Daniel, Marina Pires and More Featured in New Series From TheaterWorksUSA

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month, TheaterWorksUSA will release its latest episode featuring a celebration of Maya Angelou.

Ty Defoe, Ronvé O'Daniel, Marina Pires and More Featured in New Series From TheaterWorksUSA

TheaterWorksUSA is continuing to develop dynamic content for families and schools to engage in relevant conversations through the power of community, storytelling, and music on their platform TWUSA.TV that helps guide the next generation towards a more inclusive society and culture. The new series Who Tells Your Story? has released original music videos, each featuring a different unsung hero of American history with accompanying conversations, available to view for free for this month only and after remain as part of TWUSA.TV's subscription content. The full series can be found at http://bit.ly/twusa-tv-whotellsyourstory.

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month, TheaterWorksUSA will release its latest episode featuring a celebration of Maya Angelou available to stream beginning April 5, the day after Angelou's birthday. The feature song "Maya Angelou" is written and performed by the group Bandits on the Run (NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf selection "Love in the Underground") and will be available to stream for free, along with the four episodes prior, for the month of April. Accompanying the music video is a conversation with Stacey McAdoo, the Forever 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year and the 2020 Spirit of Maya Awardee, Dr. Janis F. Kearney, President and Founder of the Celebrate! Maya Project, spoken word poet/educator Leron McAddo celebrating Dr. Angelou's remarkable legacy.

Educators and changemaker experts involved in the series have reached out expressing the positive impact and monumental necessity of this series. Marcos Hernandez, principal of the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center, shared that their students "face many challenges...This opportunity [for our students to participate in the panel event] not only brings joy and healing, but it also opens doors for our students to broaden their aspirations."

The changemakers were selected by the music artists themselves, as Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director of TheaterWorksUSA, adds, "Who told these stories was as important to us as which stories were being told. We reached out to a diverse group of extremely talented musical artists from all over the country and asked, 'Who do you want to write about? Who inspires you? Whose story would you like to share?'" emphasizes Pasternack, "In their research, many of the songwriters engaged with biographers, documentarians, community leaders, and relatives of their subjects. Meaningful relationships were formed and these personal conversations provided inspiration for each songwriter's piece. The commission turned out to be about so much more than writing a song."

The inaugural episode in the series features Brazilian singer-songwriter Marina Pires of Aladdin Broadway (2021) and The Heartstrings Project who writes and performs the song "The Thin Blue Line" about Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut. An accompanying video shows Pires and Dr. Ochoa in dialogue where Dr. Ochoa talks about the lack of STEM role models when she was growing up and how one of her greatest achievements was being able to be a role model to empower young girls to take action and believe anything is possible.

Subsequent episodes include a music video of the original song "Wave to Freedom" a tribute to Robert Smalls with music and lyrics by Ronvé O'Daniel and music and orchestrations by Jevares Murick (both of Once Upon a Rhyme, formally known as iLLA! A Hip Hop Musical). Ronvé O'Daniel and Michael Boulware Moore, Smalls' great great grandson, engage in dialogue in the accompanying conversation about the legacy of Robert Smalls. Episode three shares viral singer-songwriter AJ Rafael's (Billboard #4 Pop iTunes Chart) original composition "Our Friend: Larry Itliong" in the music video paired with "A Panel Discussion on Larry Itliong: Journey for Justice" with Patty Serda, Aileen Pagtakhan, Gayle Romasanta, and Rafael. The fourth episode invites viewers to "Think Mink" in a song and music video inspired by Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Japanese-American woman to serve in Congress, from Sean-Joseph Choo (2nd place in the Hawai'i Music Songwriting Festival), of the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, with the deeper dialogue on "Think Mink! A Panel for Patsy Mink" hosted by Sean-Joseph Choo, featuring documentarian Kimberlee Bassford, and special guest Calvin Tamura. All four music videos and accompanying conversations are available now for viewing. Underwriting to commission the first four installments of Who Tells Your Story? was generously provided by Kara Unterberg. Forthcoming episodes will feature artists Ty Defoe, Varoun Chanal, Danish Pratap Sood, and PranKoy creating music video tributes to Jim Thorpe, Mahatma Gandhi, and more.


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