Penumbra Theatre Company and Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church announce a special musical tribute to Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel, marking the 100th anniversary of her birth. For three performances only, Come On Children, Let's Sing! will be performed Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22 at 7:00pm and on Sunday, October 23 at 3:00pm at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 3355 North 4th Street, Minneapolis.
Written by Dominic Taylor, Penumbra Associate Artistic Director, and directed by Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Founder and Artistic Director, Come On Children, Let's Sing! features Kennadi Hurst, Tonia Hughes and Jearlyn Steele, each representing a different era in Mahalia's life. Jennifer Whitlock serves as the Narrator.
Under the musical direction of Sanford Moore, the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Director of Music, Come On Children, Let's Sing! shares the musical majesty of one of the most influential gospel singers in the world, who was also heralded as a powerful civil rights activist. Over a dozen signature Mahalia Jackson tunes will be performed including the beloved title song, "Come On Children, Let's Sing!" and the popular "Move On Up a Little Higher," which sold eight million copies and was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Other songs include "How I Got Over," "I've Been Buked," and "I've Been Scorned" which Mahalia sang in front of 250,000 people at the 1963 March on Washington where the Rev. DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
General admission tickets for Come On Children, Let's Sing! are $25 and are available through the Penumbra Theatre Box Office at 651-224-3180 or penumbratheatre.org as of September 28, 2011.
KENNADI HURST (Mahala, 1911-1927) got her start in 2008 singing live for the legendary Smokey Robinson when he launched his Food Brand in Minnesota with SUPERVALU. Hurst has performed with national recording artist James Grear & Company, and was a lead singer in the Deliverance for Youth live recording in 2010. She participated in several plays at her church, High Praise Ministries the Destiny, performed at Love Works Academy, and for Stepping Stone Theatre in For the Sake of the Children. Hurst danced for Dominion Dance Studio in Annie and in a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. She attends the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts.
TONIA HUGHES (Mahalia, 1927-1950) is a national recording artist, songwriter and actress. She has done background vocals for Mary J. Blige and opened for gospel legend Fred Hammond. Her theatrical credits include Caroline or Change at the Guthrie Theater, Black Nativity at Penumbra Theatre, and Encounters at the Southern Theatre. Her current music project, I'm Ready Now, embodies all that she is vocally and spiritually.
JEARLYN STEELE (Mahalia, 1950-1970) is a native of Indiana who relocated to Minnesota singing in churches, community centers and nightclubs. She has performed at Penumbra Theatre, Old Log Theater, Historic State Theater, Ordway Center and the Guthrie Theater. Over a decade ago, Jearlyn, along with her siblings, The Steeles, began a successful run of the pop/gospel musical Gospel At Colonus which went to Carnegie Hall. Jearlyn has done national and local commercials for many companies, and her voice can be heard on various CDs for national artists like George Clinton, Mavis Staples and Prince, with whom she has toured and recorded a duet,"Race." She has been a frequent guest on MPR's A Prairie Home Companion and can be seen in the final Robert Altman film, A Prairie Home Companion. She is a host of CenterStage on WCCO Radio and the entertainment reporter on TPT's Almanac.
JENNIFER WHITLOCK (Narrator) has appeared in the following Penumbra Productions: Black Nativity, Purlie, Tambourines to Glory, Ain't MisBehavin', Selma, Bubbling Brown Sugar, and A Soldiers Play. As a 33-year member of the Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness, her musical/theatrical accomplishments include: Director of multiple years of productions of the Night before Christmas a Musical Fantasy; vocals on all of the Sounds of Blackness recordings including the most recent "The 3rd Gift - Story, Song & Spirit."