Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith

Miche Braden brings the powerful message and music  of the woman known as the “Empress of the Blues” to the stage in this bio musical of Bessie Smith.

Langston Hughes said it best when he said that spirituals are inspirations for motherless children to find a spiritual home, while the blues are about the here and now.  

 From the early death of her  mother to the loss of a beloved adopted child in a court case,  Bessie certainly knew the range of the blues from broke and broken-heated. 

Her music does not claim its origins in the spirituals of black churches, but rather from learning to sing for pennies on the streets of Chattagnoga as a child.  The path that started with an early stint as a dancing girl in a traveling show would lead to NYC’s  Carnegie Hall.  

 She set records for record sales at Columbia Records.  Thousands of people flocked to her funeral, yet her grave was unmarked until one of her musical heirs, Janis Joplin, erected a tomb marker. 

Her life, in short, was complicated—one in which she fought and loved, and drank to the maximum  — until that final fatal double car crash.

The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith  captures these moments,  but in the end, it is all about the music.   From the sassy "T'ain't Nobody's Biz-Ness if I Do,” to the heartbreaking “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” to the anthem of the depression years, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out,”  Bessie and the Blues still lives.

Kudos to the three fine musicians  Jim Hankins on bass, Anthony E. Nelson Jr. on sax and Gerard Gibbs on piano.  These guys were great!


The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith
By Angelo Parra | Conceived and Directed by Joe Brancato 
Musical Arrangements by and Starring Miche Braden
At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theatre 

August 24-September 24, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017


A message that might seem so obvious in real life turns into a magic moment of awareness when it is takes to the stage with talented directors and a fine cast.

Carlos Heredia is the actor, director and writer who with David Fletcher as music director has brought together a group of actors for a family friendly opera. Together they sounded as good as the show’s beautiful theme of peace.

Who is the star of a show that is about family and devotion?  

Leading the cast, is Analia Heredia as Nia who must go against society’s grain, to bring human hypocrisy into the light.  

As she hopes to move out of the shadows in to a bright new world, her family includes Claudillea Holloway as Jelani,  Georgia Fender as Etana,  Sonya Rice as Achi, Carly Ameling as Jane,   Codie Milford as Omari,  Liz Neitge as Janna,  andTiana Markman as Dini.

The “others” are Shaotian Cai as the Host, Gabriel Arrieta as Dr Oppenheimer and Danielle Maqsood Giusto as the Mayor.

Kudos to them all and to Delsa Heredia  who as the Dance Choreographer kept them all moving.

The Grey Suit Society had a limited run from Aug. 8-10, 2017 -  its message of human hope lasts a life time.