On Monday, June 23, at 8:00 PM, Chapman Roberts (Choral Director/arranger-Five Guys Name Moe and Smokey Joe’s Café) and Norm Lewis (Phantom, Phantom of the Opera and the TV series, Scandal), will realize their vision to pay tribute to the contributions and influence of African American men on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall for the past 100 years. Their vision, Live the Dream! A concert saluting some of the greatest musical heroes in history; Eubie Blake, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Duke Ellington, and Paul Robeson. The concert celebrates the artists’ successes at Carnegie Hall, Broadway, television, and the international touring circuit, as well as in the recording and film industries.
Mr. Roberts and Mr. Lewis have brought together a stellar company. The evening will included performances by Ben Vereen, Norm Lewis, Andre DeShields, Clifton Davis, Keith David, Maurice Hines, Hinton Battle, Larry Marshall, Chuck Cooper and Billy Porter. The Broadway songs and dance numbers are from Motown, The Lion King, Dreamgirls, Five Guys Named Moe, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Porgy and Bess.
Other Broadway and concert artist apart of this evening include: Kevin Ramsey, Glenn Turner, Doug Eskew, Milton Craig Neeley, Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter, Ben Harney, Adrian Bailey, Marcus Naylor, Leotis Clyburn, Branden Cook, Brandon Bain, Avon Long, David Helper, Raun Ruffin, Jason Cook, Lee Summers, Claude Jay, Forest Ray, Keith David, Rob “Ike” Barnes, Bobby Harden, Obba Babatunde, Kirk Taylor, Wilkie Ferguson, Lacy Darryl Phillips, Clent Bowers, Scott J. Foster, Brandon Victor Dixon, Kenneth Kamal Scott, Raymond Patterson, D’Ambrose Boyd, Ken Ard, C.E. Smith, Johnathan Lee Iverson, Torrence Bristow, Jayson Kolbicz, Anthony Wayne, Jeffery Thompson, Kirt Tyson, Herb Downer, Trent Armand Kendall, Kenneth Roberson, Kevin Michael Kennedy, Jeffrey V. Thompson, and Richard E. Waits, Derek Grant, Bakaari Wilder, Jason Samuel Smith, Joseph Web, Dule Hill, Vincent Bingham, Omar Edwards, and Alde Lewis, Broadway Brown Vocal Ensemble, Frank Owens, David Alan Bunn, William Foster McDaniel, Kenny Seymour, Julius Williams, and Abdul Hamid Royal, Sipho Kunene and Buddy Williams, Clyde Bullard and Victor Cook.
A special highlight of the evening, the presentation of the The Black Stars of the Great White Awards presented to Tony Award winner, Geoffrey Holder, (The Wiz), Choreographer, Louis Johnson, (Purlie and The Wiz with Michael Jackson Diana Ross) Producer, Stephen Byrd, (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and Robert Guillaume (First Black Phantom). The Presenters include Phylicia Rashad, Chita Rivera and Cicely Tyson.
I am honored to sing and be apart of this extraordinary company paying tribute to African American men and the influence on Broadway and Carnegie Hall. In a conversation with Chapman Roberts, I ask him a few questions :
Claude Jay: Why a tribute to African American men and what is the connection to Broadway and Carnegie Hall?
Chapman Roberts: African American men have contributed to Broadway and Carnegie Hall for the past 100 years. The performers in this concert have appeared on Broadway and range in age from 10 to 75 years old.
CJ: Why the concert at Carnegie Hall?
CR: The honoraries, they all have a history, a legacy on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall?
CJ: Why is it important to you to honor these men?
CR: The question is really, why these men have not been honored; Noble Sissle, Louis Jordan, Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes and the honorees: Luther Henderson, Bob Gulliaume, Larry Hamlin, Harold Wheeler, Geoffrey Holder and Louis Johnson. The question is why these men and their great legacies and contributions have not been honored? They have collectively contributed to every show that an African American has appeared in on Broadway in the past 75 years and they all have a history with Carnegie Hall.
CJ: Who are the artist that influenced you?
CR: I worked with Eubie Blake and Cab Calloway.
CJ: What do you want those who attend the Black Stars of the Great White Way Concert at Carnegie Hall to leave with?
CR: To share the history…it’s a history lesson.
Credits for Photos: 1). Photo Courtesy of Lisa Pacino. 2 Norm Lewis 66th Tony Awards
3). Event flyer and 4). Kurt Anthony Photo.