Black Broadway Violinist Leah Flynn, A Proud History, A Limitless Future
This week, PBS KQED presented Black Broadway a legendary program that anyone who loves great music can enjoy. Yet, even more spectacularly, Black excellence was on display through a multitude of Broadway musical selections spanning diverse styles that ranged from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to Charlie Small’s “Home” to Brenda Russell’s “The Color Purple “to Lynn Ahrens “Once on this Island”. Singers included Stephanie Mills, Sydney James Harcourt, Tiffany Mann, Amber Iman, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Miss Peppermint, John Manzari, Nikki Renee Daniels, Nova Payton, and Norm Lewis.
Yet, that would not do justice to the excitement of seeing our people in the front orchestra cheering louder than college students at a rival’s sports tournament. Other special features included rare behind the scenes footage of the artist’s appreciation of the shoulders that they stood upon. To experience programs like Black Broadway highlighting the fact that no star is beyond our reach if we put our minds to it and dedicate ourselves to our craft was auditory potpourri.
In addition, viewers will be treated to solo performance footage of some of the most amazing singers now gracing what was previously called the great white way. This included an amazing solo by Prodigy violinist Leah Flynn. The conductors for the evening are Dr. Eric Conway from Morgan State University and Brittany Chanell Johnson from Howard University.
When you see Black professionals from every corner of the globe, and with every hue representing the diaspora of diversity, breaking down Broadway’s barriers with such exuberance and power you can’t help but be lifted up on the wings of our ancestors. For so long, so many struggled, so many were denied while others were told that they simply weren’t good enough. We have always known that this wasn’t true. Need any more validation, then check out this program and tell me we didn’t hit it out of the park.
Most heartwarming were the artists sharing their goals to spread these stories of humanity regardless of race, color or creed to future generations by telling OUR STORIES. This spirit of inclusivity was also highlighted in the participation of Miss Peppermint, front, and center. The evening was expertly curated in classic PBS style. The evening culminated in a joint student choir rendition of “Brand New Day” from The Wiz sung by Howard University and Morgan State University. What a sheer delight to enjoy these soul-stirring performances.
The essence of the program was best summed up by the song from the Color Purple with the lyrics
"But most of all i am thankful for loving who I really am !!! I’m beautiful and Yes, I’m Here”