SARASOTA, FL – For Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe founding member Jnana Cooper, her life’s journey hasn’t always been smooth. But she has come out the other end stronger and, to celebrate, she will return to WBTT – where her professional artistic journey began – and perform in a special concert presentation on June 13 titled “Unbreakable: An Evening with Jnana Wilson Cooper.”
Cooper will sing songs she has previously performed in WBTT productions as well as others that hold special meaning for her. She will be joined by WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, founding member Tsadok Porter, and Ariel Blue as well as other special guests. There will be a live band, led by music director Etienne “EJ” Porter.
Songs the audience will hear include selections like “Unbreakable” (Janelle Monet and Kelly Clarkson), “Stop, In the Name of Love” (The Supremes), “To Be Real” (Cheryl Lynn), “Sweet Love” (Anita Baker), a Gladys Knight medley, and more.
“I chose the title ‘Unbreakable’ because, in my life, I’ve gone through things that could have broken me – spiritually, physically and emotionally. However, through all of it, I came out stronger and wiser,” Cooper says. “I now know my own strength and I’m more confident in who I am. I want to celebrate myself, and what better way to do that than coming home to perform where it all started?”
Cooper has been performing since the age of 5. She competed nationally in “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.” She has been featured in productions with theaters including the Phoenix Black Theatre Troupe (“Caroline, or Change”) and the Cumberland County Playhouse (“South Pacific,” “Crowns” and “Hairspray”). During her time performing with WBTT, Cooper has been featured in shows including the Troupe’s first-ever production, “Cotton Club Cabaret,” “Motown ‘60s Review,” “Sistas In the Name of Soul,” “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” “Dreamgirls,” “Songbirds of the ‘70s,” “Spunk,” “Black Nativity” and more. She also performed – along with the other founding Troupe members – as part of WBTT’s triumphant 20th Anniversary Celebration at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in 2019.
“I have been blessed and honored to see Jnana grow as a person and an artist over the past two decades,” said Jacobs. “She was an integral part of WBTT’s early history – which was not always easy – and stood by and with us through many years. I am proud to support Jnana onstage during her show and encourage the community not to miss what should be an entertaining and inspirational evening.”
The show takes place on Monday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. in The Donelly Theatre at WBTT (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). Tickets are $35/adults, $15/students and active military (including ticket fees). For more about WBTT or to purchase tickets, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.