Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay are delighted to welcome legendary songwriters Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray to Joburg on Thursday February 15th. One year ago they were together on the stage of the Staples Center in Los Angeles to receive their Grammy for The Color Purple as Best Musical Theatre Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony.
The three composer / lyricists of the musical The Color Purple are travelling from the United States expressly to see performances of the highly acclaimed South African premiere production currently on The Nelson Mandela Theatre stage at Joburg Theatre.
“Their visit this week, alongside the letter of support already written to us by Oprah Winfrey, further endorses the worldwide interest and enthusiasm that is being shown in our South African production of this glorious musical” says executive producer Bernard Jay. “We are honoured and excited to play host to such esteemed writers and musicians.”
Brenda Russell has a unique musical perspective, intimate voice and prolific treasure-trove of lyrics that prove that a truly glowing talent only deepens with time. Composer of the classics Get Here, If Only For One Night and the Grammy-nominated Piano In The Dark, Brenda’s songwriting prowess and chameleon-like ability to shift between musical genres and combine styles trumpeted ovations in 2005 with the opening of the Tony Award-winning hit Broadway musical The Color Purple.
Allee Willis is a one-woman creative think-tank. A multi-disciplinary artist and visionary thinker whose range of imagination and productivity knows no bounds, her success exuberantly defies categorization. Ms Willis is a Grammy-winning and Emmy- and Tony- nominated composer whose hit songs – including Earth, Wind & Fire’s September and Boogie Wonderland, The Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance, Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield’s What Have I Done To Deserve This and The Rembrandts’ I’ll Be There For You (Theme From Friends) – have sold over 50 million records. In 2006, Willis’ songs were also featured in three of the top grossing films of the year; Happy Feet, Night at the Museum and Babel. Ms Willis was inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame just last week.
Stephen Bray. Working with Madonna, Stephen wrote and produced many of her top-ten recordings, including Angel, Into the Groove, Papa Don’t Preach, True Blue and Express Yourself. Performing with Breakfast Club, he earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and a top-ten single. He has composed and produced for multiplatinum artists including The Jets, Gladys Knight and Kylie Minogue. His film and television projects include Beverly Hills Cop II, Who’s That Girl?, All About The Benjamins and the theme for PBS’s California Connected. Stephen is developing artists for his Soultone label. He made his Broadway debut with The Color Purple and looks forward to more musical theatre.
“I am so thrilled to come see The Color Purple in South Africa,” says singer-songwriter- keyboardist Brenda Russell. “This will be my third time to Joburg. I was delighted to find in my previous concerts in Joburg that I had lots of music fans here. It warmed my heart so much to hear the audiences sing along with me. They knew my songs and lyrics. At my last concert I brought my daughter, Lindsay Walker, who sang backup with me. I was overwhelmed with joy and love. She was amazing! Now to have The Color Purple performed with an all-South African cast is just fantastic on so many levels. Returning this time is the most special visit yet. I’m very proud that our show is being performed in South Africa. Motherland!”
The book for the musical The Color Purple is written by Marsha Norman, based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros/Amblin Entertainment Motion Picture.
The Color Purple the musical is presented by Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay on the stage of The Nelson Mandela Theatre at Joburg Theatre. The season continues until Sunday March 4th. Tickets from R240 are available now: telephone 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.
The Color Purple in South Africa is presented in association with M-Net, 702, Bona Magazine and RADA.