March is Women’s History Month and the Playhouse is bursting with the creative genius of Black femme artists, creating exceptional musical performances for Pittsburgh.
Terri Lyne Carrington, NEA Jazz Master and three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning drummer, producer and educator with Social Science produced in association with MCG Jazz. Terri Lyne Carrington’s audacious ensemble tackles subjects of racism, homophobia, gender equality, mass incarceration and police brutality. Championed in her youth by the likes of Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette and Buddy Rich, Carrington has risen to become a major instrumental and compositional figure, having collaborated with a who’s-who of jazz royalty, including long-term associations with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding. Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m. Buy tickets.
Acclaimed Indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks burst onto the Australian scene with their album “Dawn” in 2014, announcing a new voice in Australian soul music. Emma’s songwriting is optimistic, impassioned, and bruisingly honest, The Putbacks’ music is fluid, live and raw, and the collaboration has won friends and admirers all over the world.
The project was born of Emma and the band’s shared love for classic U.S. soul and the protest music of Indigenous Australia. Shades of every soul record you ever liked sneak through: Al Green’s Hi Records era? Check. Aretha’s Classic Atlantic recordings? Check. Stacks of Stax? Check. It’s all there, but there’s also a whole lot of Coloured Stone and Warumpi Band influences giving this project a uniquely Australian slant. Saturday, March 25, 7 p.m. Buy tickets.
March 30-April 2, Toshi Reagon and Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Based on the classic sci-fi novel by Afro-futurist author Octavia E. Butler, “Parable of the Sower” is a genre-defying, triumphant, mesmerizing work of rare power and beauty that illuminates deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization. This fully staged “congregational” opera brings together over 30 original anthems drawn from 200 years of Black music to recreate Butler’s sci-fi, Afrofuturist masterpiece live on stage. With music and lyrics composed by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, this compelling work chronicles the spiritual awakening of Lauren Olamina amidst an America plagued by the products of unrelenting greed, systemic injustice and climate change denial, giving life to Butler’s acclaimed science fiction novel. This project celebrates the contributions of several nationally recognized Black Women. The late Octavia E. Butler, the author of “Parable of the Sower,” is a preeminent science fiction author, Pen Lifetime Achievement honoree, and the only such writer to have received a MacArthur Fellowship. Bernice Johnson Reagon is recognized as a national treasure, having founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Toshi Reagon (Bernice’s daughter) is a multi-talented and versatile singer with an extraordinary career and profound ear for sonic Americana.