ANNENBERG CENTER LIVE ENTERS 2ND SEASON
OF MULTI-YEAR CELEBRATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO AMERICAN CULTURE
BLUES IS FOCUS FOR 16/17 SEASON
Terence Blanchard Mshell Ndegeocello
Ladies Sing the Blues, Terence Blanchard, Step Afrika!, BiRDMAN LiVE, Martin Scorsese’s The Blues™, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, MeshellNdegeocello
Among Season Offerings, Beginning Sept. 28
PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 20, 2016) - Annenberg Center Live enters the second season this fall of
its multi-year journey to celebrate the African diaspora’s unique contributions to American
culture with a series of programs under the AFRICAN ROOTS, AMERICAN VOICES banner.
Each year focuses on a different genre, exploring its roots and cultural impact, starting last
season with jazz. The 16/17 season focuses on the blues. As blues great Willie Dixon said,
“The blues are the roots. Everything else is the fruit.” Annenberg Center Live’s exploration
will feature soulful sessions with authentic blues artists, each with a heartfelt story to share.
AFRICAN ROOTS, AMERICAN VOICES kicks off the fall with the first of four film screenings
with discussions of Martin Scorsese’s The Blues™ (Sept. 28 and Oct. 26 plus two more in 2017),and continues with Jazz At Lincoln Center Presents: Ladies Sing The Blues (Oct. 1); multiple
Grammy® Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard (Oct. 21); Memphis
Soul Stew: Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble (Oct. 22); Liz Vice (Oct. 29); Step Afrika!: The Migration:
Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (Nov. 3-5); BiRDMAN LIVE, with Grammy® Award-winning
jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez playing his movie soundtrack live alongside the 2015 Oscar®
Award winner for Best Picture (Nov. 19); and The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass (Dec. 9).
In 2017, AFRICAN ROOTS, AMERICAN VOICES programming includes Sierra Leone’s Refugee
All Stars (Jan. 28); two shows with the Miguel Zenón Quartet (Feb. 11) plus I Go On
Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in Song (Feb. 18) during Black History Month; True Blues:
Corey Harris & Eric Bibb (Feb. 26); Sin & Redemption featuring Lurrie Bell & The Campbell Brothers (March 24); SFJAZZ Collective: The Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions
during Jazz Appreciation Month (April 2); and Meshell Ndegeocello (May 6).
“We continue our African Roots, American Voices series with a celebration of the blues, which
is the root of many American music styles,” says Dawn Frisby Byers, the Annenberg Center’s
Director of Marketing & Communications. “This year, several of our performances combine
different art forms to create special events, as evidenced by the combination of the art of
Jacob Lawrence with dance by Step Afrika! and the marriage of music and film in BiRDMAN LiVE.”
Other season programming includes a limited U.S. tour of the Abbey Theatre’s The Plough
and the Stars (Oct. 13-16); Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond: A Celtic Family
Celebration starring master fiddlers Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy during St.
Patrick’s Day week (Mar. 11); and the return of audience favorite Pilobolus Dance
Theater (Apr. 6-9). The 2017 Philadelphia International Children’s Festival finishes the
season, May 18-20.
* * *
Here’s a closer look at all 16/17 season programming at Annenberg Center Live:
Martin Scorsese’s The Blues ™
Film Screenings + Discussions
Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, The Blues™ consists of several films that capture the
essence of the blues and explore its profound influence on music and people the world over.
Originally aired on PBS, the films trace the evolution of the blues from parochial folk tunes to a
universal language, each film focusing on a distinct topic from the perspective of seven different
directors. Together, the films honor the art form and preserve its legacy in a celebration of its
lasting impact. “Our goal never was to produce the definitive work on the blues,” Scorsese said.
“It was, from the start, to create highly personal and impressionistic films as seen through the
eyes of the most creative directors around with a passion for this music.”
Our African Roots, American Voices season-long focus on the blues includes four free film
screenings from The Blues™ series, each with a post-show discussion:
September 28 at 7 PM
Feel Like Going Home
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Featuring a discussion with The Blues series producer Alex Gibney
October 26 at 7 PM
The Road to Memphis
Directed by Richard Pearce
February 1 at 7 PM
Warming by the Devil’s Fire
Directed by Charles Burnett
March 1 at 7 PM
Red, White & Blues
Directed by Mike Figgis
Featuring a discussion with Red, White & Blues director Mike Figgis
Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents
Ladies Sing the Blues
October 1 at 8 PM
Vocalists Catherine Russell, Brianna Thomas and Charenee Wade channel the liberated spirits
and pioneering vocalizations of four 1920s blues divas: Bessie Smith (the “Empress of the Blues”);
Mamie Smith (the “Queen of the Blues”); Ma Rainey (the “Mother of the Blues”); and legendary
stage and screen icon, Ethel Waters. Backed by a seven-piece band, the ladies demonstrate the
ageless relevance of this important genre in American music, tackling love’s follies and stompin’
the blues away!
The Plough and the Stars
October 13 at 7 PM
October 14 at 8 PM
October 15 at 2 PM and 8 PM
October 16 at 3 PM
Dublin, Ireland, 1915. Revolution is imminent as violence sweeps through the streets. Commemorating
the 100th anniversary of the historic Easter Rising and the birth of the Irish Republic, The Plough and
the Stars tells the story of ordinary lives ripped apart by the idealism of the time. Olivier Award-winning
director Sean Holmes brings a new and challenging perspective to Sean O’Casey’s provocative play.
A limited U.S. tour by Ireland’s Abbey Theatre!
Featuring The E-Collective
October 21 at 8 PM
Multiple Grammy® Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard returns to the
Annenberg Center with his quintet, The E-Collective. The group creates a groove fusion teeming
with funk, R&B and blues influences that range from dance-steeped party to pensive, ambient
sounds. This performance will feature songs from Blanchard’s latest album, Breathless, written
in response to current social tensions.
Memphis Soul Stew
Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble
October 22 at 8 PM
It’s the blues, served with some Memphis soul and seasoned with jazz! Blues was a springboard
for rock n’ roll, R&B, country, gospel and jazz. Join bassist Warren Oree and an expanded Arpeggio
Jazz Ensemble for a hearty helping of musical nourishment for the soul, featuring hits by Muddy
Waters, B.B. King, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin and more!
October 29 at 8 PM
Gospel, soul and R&B combine in the timeless vocals of breakout artist Liz Vice. This inspiring,
up-and-coming artist is dedicated to making positive social change through her genuine yet
playful approach to soul-filled music. Come what may, Liz Vice is gonna let it shine.
The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence
November 3 at 7:30 PM
November 4 at 8 PM
November 5 at 2 PM and 8 PM
Stepping is a percussive, rhythmic dance style combining African and modern dance traditions.
This professional company performs the Philadelphia premiere of their full-length work, The
Migration, based on Jacob Lawrence’s iconic painting series that charts the story of African-Americans
moving from the south to the north in the early 1900s. High-energy performance combines with the
images, color palette and motifs of the paintings to create a thrilling feast for the senses.
Antonio Sanchez Live Drum Score
November 19 at 8 PM
2015 Oscar® Award winner for Best Picture, Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance starred
Michael Keaton as a washed-up action star trying to reinvent his career on the Broadway stage. The
music, a frenetic heartbeat of drumbeats, is a palpable secondary character propelling the action
forward. For this special event, Grammy® Award-winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez plays his
movie soundtrack live alongside the visually stunning film.
The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
December 9 at 8 PM
Mixing classical, big band jazz and New Orleans swing, this brass ensemble brings together top
musicians from across the country for a jazzy holiday celebration. The group is led by trumpeter
Rodney Marsalis who learned from none other than his cousin, Wynton, and is now Principal
Trumpet for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and an Artist in Residence at Temple
University. Join this dream team of brass players for some swinging holiday sounds!
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
January 28 at 8 PM
A potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to
persevere. From their humble beginnings in West African refugee camps, Sierra Leone’s Refugee
All Stars have risen to acclaim with their energetic mix of old-school reggae, funky African grooves
and moving tribal chants. Traumatized by the horrors of war, they continue to fight back and spread
awareness with the only means they have – music.
Miguel Zenón Quartet
February 11 at 7 PM and 9:30 PM
A Grammy®-nominated Latin jazz trailblazer, Miguel Zenón is widely considered one of the most
groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation. Born and raised in Puerto Rico,
Zenón and his quartet perform a unique mix of Latin American folkloric music and jazz from Tipico,
an album to be released in February 2017. Don’t miss this Annenberg Center audience favorite
and 2015 Jazz Journalist Association Alto Saxophonist of the Year!
I Go On Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in Song
February 18 at 8 PM
Equal parts documentary and live concert, the life of all-American athlete, singer, actor and civil
rights champion Paul Robeson is explored in this multimedia performance. Led by versatile
baritone Anthony Brown, a pianist and a narrator, I Go On Singing celebrates Robeson’s life
and impact with archival video and musical selections ranging from Broadway to spirituals,
including favorites such as “Wade in the Water” and “Ol’ Man River.”
Corey Harris & Eric Bibb
February 26 at 7 PM
True Blues chronicles the living culture of the blues in an uplifting evening of music and conversation.
A former New Orleans street performer, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and guitarist/vocalist
Corey Harris boasts a unique blues style and was featured in PBS’ The Blues film series. Eric Bibb is
known for his fiery soul, gospel and folk vocals and his impressive guitar chops. Together, Harris
and Bibb vividly bring to life this crucial source of American music.
Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond: A Celtic Family Celebration
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy
March 11 at 8 PM
It’s all in the family. Master fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy perform a new show
with some very special guests – their children! The evening will highlight the unique talents,
influences and stories of the first family of Irish culture with dancing, singing and, of course,
world-class music-making. This fierce fiddling duo commands the stage with raw energy and
passion that combines their traditional Celtic heritage with a taste for the contemporary.
Sin & Redemption
Lurrie Bell & The Campbell Brothers
March 24 at 8 PM
Sin & Redemption illuminates the undeniable connection between the blues and gospel music.
Rousing Saturday night juke joint sounds morph into Sunday morning gospel tunes. This special
double bill starts with blues guitarist and vocalist Lurrie Bell, son of famed blues harmonica player
Carey Bell. Then, The Campbell Brothers, on pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitars, complete
the evening with a rich variety of African-American gospel music.
The Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions
April 2 at 7 PM
Eight jazz all-stars make up the award-winning SFJAZZ Collective, known for its commitment to
jazz as a constantly evolving, ever-relevant art form. In a mighty one-night-only performance,
the ensemble showcases original compositions alongside a tribute to legendary jazz
trumpeter/composer Miles Davis. More than anyone else, Davis consistently changed the
sound of jazz from the birth of bebop in the 1940s to the integration of rock approaches that
gave rise to the fusion movement in the 1970s.
Pilobolus Dance Theater
April 6 at 7:30 PM
April 7 at 8 PM
April 8 at 2 PM and 8 PM
April 9 at 3 PM
Contemporary dance, gymnastics, technology and playful props combine in the wild antics
of Pilobolus Dance Theater! This perpetual audience favorite returns with a program guaranteed
to amuse and inspire. The physically daring movement and elaborately imaginative concepts of
Pilobolus is a must see!
May 6 at 8 PM
Mercurial and masterful, bass player and vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello sojourns into soul, spoken
word, R&B, jazz, hip-hop and rock with ease. For over 20 years, she has performed solo and also
alongside the Rolling Stones, Madonna, James Blood Ulmer, John Medeski, Billy Preston, Chaka
Khan and more. Ndegeocello‘s groove-driven, melodic and meditative sound is always transforming,
promising a performance like none other.
2017 Philadelphia International Children’s Festival
The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has been the
region's leading multi-disciplinary performance venue for theatre, dance, jazz, world music,
new music and children’s programming since its inception in 1971. The Annenberg Center’s
curatorial vision emphasizes four primary values: artistic integrity, cultural diversity, curatorial
balance and a willingness to take risks. By presenting world-renowned and cutting edge
artists and companies that express adventuresome perspectives on contemporary issues,
timeless ideas and diverse cultures, the Annenberg Center promotes critical thinking and
dialogue among its audiences, creating a uniquely rewarding arts experience.
The Annenberg Center has achieved national recognition for its outstanding Dance Celebration
series (presented in former partnership with Philadelphia's Dance Affiliates), touring theater
series, and for its superior offerings for children, including both its Arts4Youth Series and the
acclaimed 30 plus year Philadelphia International Children’s Festival, the oldest festival of its
kind in the United States.