Tag-Archive for » Billie Holiday «

Celebrating Black History Month!

Billie Holiday, black history month, African-American, people of colorBillie Holiday, jazz singer,one woman cast,segregation      A Tribute to Billie Holiday, in celebration of Black History Month.  It’s always a joy to hear Billie’s music again.

Scent of Magnolia” by Trisha Sugarek.……’tells the story of a young woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. The one woman show portrays the life of a black jazz singer in America during the 30’s. The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman and her music.

Billie tells not only her story, but our nation’s story. She interjects her tale with her most famous music as well as some of her more obscure songs. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of the segregation of that time and the billie Holiday, black singers, musicians, jazz,difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white musicians. Without self-pity , she talks about the

(Note: Original song written by Gary Swindell, for this stage play.) daily slings and arrows that are a part of bigotry. Billie takes complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions. Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever.’                                          

Billie Holiday, jazz, stage play, one act play,

Latrelle Bright as Billie – 2004

black history month, billie Holiday, people of color,…….Ben Rafuse as the ‘piano man’

 

We have much to celebrate this year with people of color serving our country in the   military abroad, serving the community and nation in the political arena.  The many musicians who gave ‘birth to the blues’.

The giants and philosophers, playwrights and politicians…..authors, writers, Walter Mosley

It’s taken us over eighty years to evolve to this point, t williamssince Billie Holiday struggled as a black woman to survive in this country. …….we still have a way to go but we, as a nation, have much to be proud of. Did you miss the post about Savannah’s black orphan kids

James Baldwin, writers, authors

(Hank Aaron,  Kamala Harris, Corey Booker,

Tennessee Williams, Walter Mosley,Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee,   James Baldwin, ) and thousands of others who fill our world and our history. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~black musicians, jazz, Billie Holiday, music

 

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS! March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 

 

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
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The Birth: ‘Scent of Magnolia’, a Tribute to Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday, stage plays, scripts, monologues, jazz singer, segregration  It all started when a jazz singer/actress asked me to write a one-woman show for her; portraying the life and music of Billie Holiday. At the time she had a three piece band and they played small jazz clubs in Chicago. She had just finished acting in a showcase that I had produced (Women Outside the Walls) and was on her way back to the windy city. 

I laughed.  Why would she want a middle-aged, white Irish woman to write a play for her showcase of an iconic African-American woman? She replied, “you got inside the heads of the women in this play you wrote. You’ve never been in prison or been married to a convict. But you were able to make us feel empathy for these forgotten wives and families.”

 I said I’d think about it and started researching Billie Holiday’s life. Sure, I’d seen “Lady Sings the Blues” but felt certain that there was more to the story than a song-bird who OD’d on hard drugs. I discovered  the story of a fearless woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. 

The resulting one-woman show was not only Billie’s story, but the nation’s story. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of Billie Holiday, jazz, stage play, one act play,the segregation of that time and the difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white men. Without pity for herself, she talks about the daily slings and arrows which are a part of bigotry.  She took complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions.  Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever.  The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman. 

You might wonder about the title. After all Billie was known for her white gardenias.  I chose Scent of Magnolia from the lyrics of Strange Fruit. 
‘Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh…..’

Original music  by  composer/song writer: Gary Swindell  PRESS play
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My BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series. Coming up, January: Dinah Jefferies.

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Celebrate Black History Month with Billie Holiday!!

Billie Holiday, black history month, African-American, people of colorPlaywright, author, Trisha Sugarek celebrated Black History Month with a musical, staged reading of her one woman show, “Scent of Magnolia”, A Tribute to the Life and Music of Billie Holiday.  Playing to a sold out house, the reading featured Krystle Pitts (as jazz singer, Billie Holiday) and Ben Rafuse (as Billie’s ‘piano man) on keyboard’. ‘God Bless the Child’ video from the show, click here:  https://www.facebook.com/writeratplay

black history month, billie Holiday, people of color,

Ben Rafuse, Billie’s ‘piano man’

Synopsis:
“Scent of Magnolia” tells the story of a young woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. This one woman show portrays the life of a black jazz singer in America during the 30’s. The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman and her music.

Billie Holiday, stage plays, scripts, monologues, jazz singer, segregrationBillie tells us not only her story, but the nation’s story. She interjects her tale with her most famous music as well as some of her more obscure songs. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of the segregation of that time and the difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white men. Without self pity , she talks about the daily slings and arrows that are a part of bigotry. Billie takes complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions. Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever.

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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Where will your writing take you?

Billie Holiday, jazz, stage play, one act play,              I was going through some old photos to update my gallery here on my site and I came across this wonderful production shot of Latrelle Bright, as Billie Holiday.  The Renaissance Guild in San Antonio, Texas featured “Scent of Magnolia” in their OneAct Series back in…..gosh, I want to say 2003.  Originally I was the playwright, Latrelle was directing it and we had an actress who could sing.  We lost our actress so Latrelle (an accomplished actor) stepped in as Billie Holiday and I stepped up as director.  Happy Accident time!  She was fabulous!  Sang all of Billie’s songs acappella. Who knew she had such a lovely voice?  Standing “O’s” every performance with lots of tears from the audience. (A writer’s dream)

Latrelle is now a happy resident of Chicago (where it all started for me with this script; funny how that worked out) and is pursuing her teaching career in the performing arts.

What a journey Billie and I have had.  Originally I wrote this stage play for a friend more »

Skip to the Head of the Line

bookstoreMy book store is just a click away!  USE THIS CODE 336699 AND GET 10% OFF of any BOOK purchase UNTIL November 31st.   The Web Site has a new feature: you can now buy an autographed copy of any book directly from the author using your Visa, MasterCard through PayPal. And you don’t need a PayPal account to use it. It’s so easy!

Scripts about bullying and other teen issues.  Great for the

Ten Minutes to Curtain, Vol. I, II, & III

Ten Minutes to Curtain, Vol. I, II, & III

classroom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction.  The new mystery series, ‘The World of Murder’ with Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia.artofmurder_cover (2)

 

 

WOW.BanW._wow (3)Don’t miss “Women Outside the Walls” 

 

 

 

 

and”Wild Violetsfiction, women, flappers, prohibition, San Francisco, roaring twenties

more »

“Monologues 4 Women” released!…and how they were created

monologues, contemporary and classic monologues, theatre, acting, auditioning, auditions      I am proud to announce that my new book of monologues for women has been published and is available here and on www.amazon.com.

I woke up one morning recently and thought, “I’ve got some soliloquies tucked away that would make pretty good monologues.  This book is, I think, unique because all the contemporary monologues are original.  Directors get bored and tired of the same old shoes like speeches from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Barefoot in the Park, Streetcar Named Desire, Pygmalion, View from the Bridge and others. Make them sit up and listen when you use something they have never heard before!

And that brings me to the point that I want to share with my readers out there who are writers or want to be writers.  Previously I was talking about my digging out some old and new work and turning them into a book of monologues.  Never, never throw anything away.  Open up that dusty old box of your scribbles that you have hidden away on the top shelf of the closet.  You might be surprised what you find and how much you like it after a year, five years or ten.  “Note from a Watery Grave” which I scribbled down back in 2002?….turns out it was pretty good with some additional editing on my part.  The end result was a new book.  My motivation: as an actor, I know how hard it is to find that perfect monologue for an audition.  How difficult it is to get the director’s attention and keep it.

While compiling this book, I remembered how I would go to an audition and announce that my classical piece was going to be Anne from Richard III.  The director (or audition panel) would roll their eyes and yawn in my face.  The ‘Anne’ that they were thinking of was an old tired thing that’s been done to death, when Richard confronts Anne over the coffin.  My ‘Anne’ was a conversation that I pieced together into a soliloquy and I was certain that they had never seen.   I got the same reaction from the director every time;  they sat up and listened!  And afterwards, they laughed and told me they were expecting something else and how refreshing mine was.

A final note:  I have included not only some classics (so that your audition will show contrast in your acting ability)  but also some original monologues for the African-American actress.

A LETTER from SPAIN !!

One of the most rewarding parts of being a writer (on the Internet) is the responses I have gotten from all over the world.  India, Australia, Argentina, Great Britian, and now Spain.  Tanya is a working actor and has become interested in Billlie Holiday as a way to fine tune her musical career.

I thought my readers might enjoy her letter,

My name is Tanya R. and I’m an actress interested in training and developing my acting and singing abilities. I came to find your play and I was very lucky to find it (Scent of Magnolia)

I’ve read it and I have really enjoyed it. I hadn’t really gone in depth in Billie Holiday’s life or music. My only objective is to do some training with the play. I was born in Colombia, raised in both Colombia and England and presently live in Spain. I try to develop and work on the characters I play from what is the most difficult for me from a humanistic point of view. I try to work on a basis of affection, humbleness as a person, tenderness and respect with no judging, and I know that can be very very hard. I just think your play is an excellent opportunity to grow as an actress, and as a woman. I find your play very beautiful because though Billie Holiday’s life was so difficult, what attracts me so much is the way the character can be so close to you as you see/listen to her telling her story, so close.

There’s is a lot in it, told with affection and respect. Not only that. I am Colombian, and accent, background, my god, my profile is far from the character’s, which makes it more challenging to work on. I have had a look at your material, and I am very interested in reading all of it. The play with the 4 women seems so interesting to develop such different colours to the characters. Also I work a lot with my son’s friends in creations in video and theatre, they love acting so we do simple things in english as well. You have some material on short plays for young actors which I will be using no doubt.

I am very happy to hear from you and your work. I will let you know about my process, of course. As I said, my aim is to be a better actress and person and your play has the perfect ingredients for it.

A warm hello, Tanya