SARASOTA, FL – The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to continue its 2017-2018 “WBTT Voices” program with its second program of the season. On Monday, February 5 at 8:00 p.m., WBTT presents “An Intimate Evening with Melba Moore.” During this program, the Tony Award-winner will discuss her legendary career and performance in WBTT’s upcoming production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” in a conversation facilitated by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs and Sarasota Herald-Tribune arts editor and theater critic Jay Handelman; she will also sing a couple of musical numbers.
Moore is an American singer, actress and entertainer who made her Broadway debut in Hair. She was the first African-American woman to replace a white actress (Diane Keaton) in a lead role. In 1970 she starred in Purlie, which earned her a Tony Award for her portrayal as Lutiebelle. Another first came when she landed the female lead role on Broadway as Fantine in the acclaimed musical, Les Misérables. Following the success of Purlie, Moore landed two big-screen film roles, released two successful albums, “I Got Love” and “Look What You’re Doing to the Man,” and co-starred with actor Clifton Davis in the then-couple’s own successful variety television series in 1972. She has topped the charts with a number of successful songs and has been nominated for many Grammy Awards.
She was instrumental in having the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” inducted in the U.S. Library of Congress as the official Negro National Anthem. In 2003, she appeared with Beyoncé and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the motion picture The Fighting Temptations. In 2007, she landed a role in the Broadway revival of Ain’t Misbehavin’. In 2009, Moore told her life story on TV-One’s “Unsung” and, later that year, released her first R&B album in nearly 20 years, a duet with Phil Perry called “The Gift of Love.” On October 4, 2015, she was inducted into The Official Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame Museum in Detroit, Mich.
“We are so thrilled to have Melba with us for the next six weeks, participating in this event and then starring in Lady Day through April 8th. To have an artist of her stature working with us is an incredible honor,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “She has opened doors and broken through ceilings over the course of her career, paving a way for minority artists for the past 50 years. We expect a capacity crowd – hanging on her every word – for the WBTT Voices program.”
The WBTT Voices program, a free service WBTT offers for the community, examines the people and issues that have shaped the African-American experience in our country. WBTT Voices was launched in 2014; all programs have been at full capacity.
“Voices” programs take place at the WBTT Theatre (1646 10th Way, Sarasota). Free and open to the public but reservations are required; there is a limit of two reservations per household for this program. RSVP by calling (941) 366-1505 and pressing “1” for the Box Office. For more about WBTT, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.