For fans of blues, Bessie Smith is queen. Known as “The Empress of the Blues,” a born singer, Smith dominated the stage in the 1920s and 30s, whose stage presence, indomitable voice, and emotive, autobiographical songs made her one of the highest paid black female singers so the era. Performing alongside Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, and Joe Smith to name a few, Smith left an indelible mark on the musical landscape.
The Theatre at Arts Garage aims to capture the spirit of this larger-than-life performer with The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith. On stage from February 28 through March 26, the musical is a dramatization of the turbulent story of the legendary singer whose life was as large and as outrageous as her talent. The play re-imagines Bessie’s final electrifying evening after she and her band were turned away by a whites-only theater. Set in 1937 in a Memphis “buffet flat,” the partying, laughter, and bawdiness all come together to deliver an entertaining, unforgettable, and surprisingly touching evening, while weaving in many of Smith’s classics, including “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “T’aint Nobody’s Business,” “There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and “St. Louis Blues.”
- Tickets cost $30 for general admission, $40 for reserved seats, and $45 for premium admission. For showtimes and tickets, visit artsgarage.com.