An unlikely and controversial pair unites over their passion for music as Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati continues its 2012-2013 season with the regional premiere of Black Pearl Sings!. Written by Frank Higgins, the play tells the soulful story of a musicologist’s endeavor to preserve traditional spiritual songs and the cultural experiences of an African-American inmate seeking freedom. Inspired by the real-life story of folklorist John Lomax and musician Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Black Pearl Sings! plays March 13-31, 2013 and is directed by D. Lynn Meyers. LPK is Premiere Sponsor.
Set during the Great Depression, Susannah, an academic and song collector for the Library of Congress, travels the country, recording lost traditional songs. Hoping to find the one song that will bring her long-awaited recognition, she discovers Pearl Johnson in a Texas prison. With a silky, soulful voice and a wealth of African-American spiritual songs, Pearl seeks information along with a chance at freedom and at finding her lost daughter. The two women soon find themselves walking a delicate line between exposure and exploitation. Featuring beautiful a cappella renditions of African-American folk songs, this moving drama chronicles a powerful story about being a woman in a man’s world, being black in a white world, and fighting for one’s soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity.
“The most important thing to be about Black Pearl Sings! is how friendship can be based on mutual need,” says ETC Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers. “The show is captured during the Great Depression, a time of great need and great change. Two women from very different backgrounds have to find their paths, not only in how to survive, but also how to succeed and thrive in that time,” she continues. “I love that the script incorporates music into its core and that the music is a cappella. It makes for a really interesting situation.”
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