Westcoast Black Theatre Reveals Final 2023-24 Young Artist Program Showcase

The performance is on Sunday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

By: Apr. 30, 2024
Westcoast Black Theatre Reveals Final 2023-24 Young Artist Program Showcase
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Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will present the eleventh year of its annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members can showcase their talents with self-produced, one-person shows. WBTT’s final Young Artist Program showcase of the 2023-2024 season will feature Troupe member and powerhouse vocalist Charlie “CJ” Melton as he presents “I Sing Because I’m Happy; I Sing Because I’m Free” on Sunday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The show will offer a night filled with powerful, soul-stirring performances as he presents some well-known favorites: from church house rocks to deeply felt R&B tunes, such as “So Amazing” by Luther Vandross and “I’m Blessed” by Charlie Wilson. He will also include songs that express his love and reverence for gospel music. “I Sing” is sure to be a moving, uplifting and inspirational experience for audience members.

Melton will enjoy onstage support from fellow WBTT artists Jazzmin Carson, Raleigh Mosely II and Maicy Powell. The live band will include Music Director/main keys Matthew McKinnon, EJ Porter on drums, Jamar Camp on auxiliary keys, and Jordan Henry on bass. Jordan Bolds will serve as a featured musical guest on saxophone.

Melton is a 2020 graduate of Manatee High School. He is a vocalist, aspiring actor and songwriter who has traveled and sung with various churches and nonsectarian groups throughout his life. After gaining experience as a singer in church, he first had the opportunity to work with WBTT in 2014 and, over the years – through participation in WBTT’s Stage of Discovery youth training program/summer camp and various mainstage opportunities – has earned numerous feature roles in WBTT productions. 

Stage credits include “Once on This Island,” “Dreamgirls,” “Black Nativity,” “Joyful! Joyful!” and “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.” In 2018, Melton released his first single, “All to You.” 

In 2021, Melton became a full-time certified preschool teacher, which offers him the opportunity to create happy and teachable moments that will last a lifetime.

WBTT’s Young Artist Program, part of its education programming, was created to support, develop and showcase the talents of young, aspiring artists of color. The Young Artist Program offers company members the opportunity to develop and present an original production. All proceeds from the show are given to the presenting artist to be used to further their artistic and professional development.

Previous Young Artist Program showcases this year featured Delores McKenzie and Ariel Blue.

“It has been so much fun watching CJ come into his own as an artist – especially gratifying for us has been watching the audience react when CJ starts to sing,” said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, who assists the performers in developing and directing their presentations. “My primary goal when I founded Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was to build a platform where I could train and mentor young artists; helping to nurture and guide CJ’s talent – which was prodigious even before he found his way to WBTT – has been particularly fulfilling for me.”

Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many young artists through their participation in the company’s productions and, in more recent years, Stage of Discovery and other youth training opportunities. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the organization’s performing arts program have gone on to work with regional and national companies and even achieved major-label success. 

Young Artist Program showcases take place in The Donelly Theatre at WBTT (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $27 general admission; sponsor tickets, which include reserved preferred seating and playbill recognition, are $100 (prices include ticket fees). Call the Box Office at 941-366-1505 or purchase tickets online at westcoastblacktheatre.org


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