Benefit Concert of Fannie Lou, New Musical About Civil Rights Activist, Will Play Carnegie Hall

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25 Jun 2014

Excerpts from a new musical about Fannie Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights activist, will be presented at Carnegie Hall this fall.



"Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou: At Carnegie Hall," written by playwright/composer Felicia Hunter, will be presented in concert format Oct. 9 at 7:30 PM.

The event, which will feature selected dialogue and music, ranging from blues to folk, jazz, traditional musical theatre, spoken word to opera, will be performed by a cast of more than a dozen actors and a live, six-piece instrumental ensemble.

"The musical Fannie Lou tells the story of Fannie Lou Hamer's voting rights struggle through her eyes and the eyes of various fictional characters, who represent a variety of viewpoints," press notes state. "There are African Americans who are reluctant to become involved in the movement, and there are whites who are supportive of it as well as resistant to it."

A portion of the program will be devoted to an interactive discussion about Hamer, the time period in which the action in the musical takes place and the historical context of circumstances that impeded voting rights. Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice, will be featured as a special guest speaker.

"I'm very excited about this performance," Hunter said in a statement. "I'm especially excited that it will serve as a benefit for the Center for Law and Social Justice. It's an excellent community asset, and the kinds of issues they tackle mirror the issues that were important to Fannie Lou Hamer — human dignity, self-determination and, of course, voting rights."

"In hindsight, yes, of course we can say that the voting rights movement was on the right side of history," she added. "But with this, I wanted to explore the different viewpoints that were prevalent at the time. Everybody, even some African Americans, didn't agree that they should push so fervently for voting rights. And while our image of the Southern racist can be quite overshadowing, there were a number of whites who stood up for voting rights — and who suffered severely, even lost their lives, because of it. I wanted to present all of those perspectives with Fannie Lou."

Hunter was inspired to write the musical after reading Kay Mills' "This Little Light of Mine," a biography of Hamer. The musical received its Off-Broadway debut in 2012.

The one-night-only special event also will serve as a benefit for the Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College, CUNY.

Tickets and more information can be found at carnegiehall.org.