Denison faculty member presents autobiographical performance piece
Date of Event: January 28, 2009
Posted: December 4, 2008 / Last Updated: January 20, 2009
A one-woman show – “Notes from a Pullman Porter’s Daughter” – will be performed by its creator, JoAnne F. Henry, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 28 and 29, in Denison’s Ace Morgan Theatre (211 West College Street) as part of this year’s campus celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event is open to the public at no cost; reservations are requested and can be made by calling the theatre box office at 740-587-6527.
“Notes from a Pullman Porter’s Daughter” is an innovative performance piece based on autobiographical materials. It traces Henry’s struggle to become an artist, a scholar, and an activist. The work explores the intersections of creativity and the sacred along with her passion for social justice. Informed by black feminist thought, womanist theology and feminist performance strategies, “Notes from a Pullman Porter’s Daughter” weaves narrative with popular music across several decades. It includes freedom songs, rock music, hymns and folk music.
Victoria Rue is the director of the production. Musicians for the production include Francisco Herrera on guitar and vocals; Stephen Mitchell, drummer/percussionist; Bill Stetz, bassist and vocals; and Ann Rabson, pianist.
Henry is a visiting assistant professor at Denison in the Black Studies and Women’s Studies programs. She has worked professionally as a performer and teacher of performers in the southeast, Midwest, and in the San Francisco Bay area. She has performed in several musicals including “Hair,” “Flying/Falling,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Among the groups she has performed with are The Glide Gospel Ensemble, Bobby Jones and the New Life Chorale, and JoAnne and the White Boys. While working as an interfaith organizer for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice in California, Henry performed with a Moroccan Sufi devotional music/jazz gospel fusion group.
Herrera, a singer/songwriter/musician, is the founder and co-director of Trabajo Cultural Caminante, which supports social movements through the arts and organizational development. A resident of San Francisco, he created “Strength from the Roots” in 1995, which is a song and story concert/workshop that highlights the strengths migrant people bring to society. He has collaborated with Henry since 1992, and they presented “Stories of Struggle, Songs of Hope” in 1997 in San Francisco.
Mitchell, a Grammy award winner from Lewisburg, Pa., has explored the world and various musical genres and has worked both in the studio and touring. A featured soloist with the Joffrey Ballet for eight years, Mitchell toured with Mose Allison and Van Morrison and recorded or played with Lou Rawls, Maria Muldaur, Joe Henderson and Earl Van Dyke of Motown’s Funk Brothers.
Stetz, also now residing in Lewisburg, earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Pennsylvania State University and has performed on bass for nearly 30 years in and around Pennsylvania. In live performances and on recordings, he has joined bands playing a wide variety of musical genres – jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock, folk, Celtic and reggae. In addition to teaching bass and guitar, Stetz has served as a pit musician for regional theatres for several musicals, including “Grease” and “Man of La Mancha.”
Rabson, a Virginia resident who is honored as a member of the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame, didn’t decide to learn how to play the piano until age 35. Her first instrument was a guitar she found in her father’s attic as a child. Attracted to the Piedmont style of guitar picking, Rabson created a unique and ear-catching sound all her own. She sings in a distinctive contralto voice and has been nominated multiple times for the Blues Music (formerly W.C. Handy) Award, as well as the Traditional Female Artist of the Year, Song of the Year – instrument, piano, and album of the year.
Denison theatre department members serving in production roles for “Notes from a Pullman Porter’s Daughter” are Cindi Turnbull as producer and costume designer, Tammy Honesty as scenic/lighting designer, Andrew Johns as technical director and Joyce Merrilees as costume shop supervisor. Arielle Waite, a Denison student, will be stage manager for the production.
- DU -
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville — “Notes from a Pullman Porter’s Daughter” will be performed by its creator, JoAnne F. Henry, at 8 p.m. on Wed. and Thurs., Jan. 28 and 29, in Denison’s Ace Morgan Theatre (211 West College Street). Free and open to the public; reservations are requested. Contact the Denison Theatre Box Office at 740-587-6527.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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