Blind Lemon Blues: York Theatre Company announces full cast
The York Theatre Company have announced the complete cast for their upcoming production of Blind Lemon Blues ï¿½ featuring more than 60 Blind Lemon Jefferson songs. The musical opens at the Theatre at Saint Peterï¿½s on 15 Sep 2009, following previews from 8 Sep and runs through to 4 Oct 2009.
Created by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde, with musical arrangements by Akin Babatunde, Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, Blind Lemon Blues is directed and choreographed by Babatunde. It is presented by The York Theatre Company and Documentary Arts in association with Central Track Productions.
Blind Lemon Blues: Set in New York City in 1948 at the last recording session of the legendary Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, and combines elements of traditional blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, doo-wop, and rap to evoke the enduring legacy of Blind Lemon and his contemporaries Blind Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, Lillian Miller and Leadbelly himself.
Jefferson was a blind street musician who played his guitar with a tin cup tied to it until a Paramount Records scout discovered him. Between 1926 and 1929, Jefferson made more than 80 records and became the biggest selling down-home blues singer in America.
The full cast features Akin Babatunde (Blind Lemon Jefferson), Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, Carol Markes, Timothy Parham, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, Cavin Yarbrough (Lead Belly), Benita Arterberry and Lillias White.
Blind Lemon Blues was presented as a York mainstage production in 2007 for a special 10-performance run featuring Benita Arterberry, Akin Babatunde, Timothy Parham, Lillias White, Cavin Yarbrough, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough and guitarist Sam Swank.
Akin Babatunde credits include his one-man show written with his brother, celebrated actor Obba Babatunde, entitled 'Before the Second Set - a Visit with Satchmo,' which has received critical acclaim at theaters across the country. Babatunde directed the 2007 'Godï¿½s Leading Ladies: Above and Beyond' event at the Potterï¿½s House in Dallas, Texas and recently directed the Southwest premiere of 'Blue' at Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sheran Goodspeed Keyton has been acting and singing professionally for 17 years. She has performed in many venues all over the DFW metroplex, most notably Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is currently their resident choreographer.
Carol Markes is a former Miss Bermuda Islands in her native country. She began singing in church at the age of seven years old and by her early teens was being hired as the opening act for gospel performers like the Winans Family and Keith Pringle, Hip-Hop entertainers like Salt-n-Peppa and Doug E. Fresh, and R & B and Jazz singers like Peabo Bryson and George Hammond and Maxi Priest.
Timothy Parham has appeared on the New York stage in 'August in April,' a tribute to the work and legacy of August Wilson, 'Streamers,' 'The Wiz,' 'The Diary of Blackmen' and the 'Crucible,' directed and produced by and Dr. Tommie 'Tonea' Stewart.
Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, half of the duo Yarbrough & Peoples, began performing by playing the piano and singing in church and then joined a community choir, traveling and singing with James Clevland and Mattie Moss Clark. After she teamed up with Cavin Yarbrough, a childhood friend, they had great musical success in Los Angeles as Yarbrough & Peoples, which earned them a Grammy nomination.
Cavin Yarbrough began his entertainment career as a back up singer for Leon Russell. He and his wife and musical partner, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, had four top 10 singles and earned a Grammy nomination for the hit single 'Donï¿½t Stop the Music' from the album 'The Two of Us.'
Benita Arterberry is a singer, songwriter, actress and stage and studio producer. The Dallas native had a No. 1 hit single with the song 'Changed' from her first album 'Thank You.' In addition to Blind Lemon Blues, she has appeared in 'Of Guns, Ropes & Lies,' directed by Akin Babutundeï¿½, 'The Ups and Downs of Theopohilus Maitland,' 'Media' and 'American Juke Box.'
Lillias White is soome to appear on Broadway in the new musical 'Fela!' She won a Tony Award for her portrayal of 'Sonia' in 'The Life.' Her other Broadway credits include 'How to Succeed ï¿½' (Jonesey), 'Cats' (Grizzabella), 'Once on This Island' (Asaka), 'Dreamgirls' (Effie) and 'Chicago' (Mama Morton). Off-Broadway, sheï¿½s been seen in 'The Vagina Monologues,' 'Crowns,' 'Dinah Was' (as Dinah Washington) and in 'William Finn Romance in Hard Times' (Obie Award).