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BILLIE HOLIDAY:FRONT AND CENTER BEGINS JULY 26 AT WACO THEATER CENTER IN NORTH HOLLYWOOD
By Sentinel News Wire
Published July 31, 2019

Billie Holiday: Front and Center, the acclaimed show with songs will run  at the  WACO Theater Center, 5144 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.Run dates include Friday, July 26, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, July 27 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m.; Friday, August 2 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, August 3 at 8:00 p.m.; Friday, August 16 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, August 17 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, August 18 at 3:00 p.m.

The play is written and performed by Sybil D. Jatta and directed by B’ANCA. The play is presented by Champion Club Productions. Associate producer: Linda Bronson-Abbot. Musical director: Casey McCoy.

Billie Holiday (1915-1959)  was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson.

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Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse.

Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times.

Writer-performer Sybil D. Jatta brings Holiday’s story to vibrant life in the new show Billie Holiday: Front and Center. Ms. Jatta portrays multiple characters and sings a selection of songs that comprise an array of Holiday’s greatest hits, among them God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, All of Me, Don’t Explain, My Man, Good Morning Heartache, many more. Ms. Jatta is accompanied live by jazz musicians.

Sybil D. Jatta is a Phoenix native who first portrayed Holiday in the touring musicalSang Sista Sang, produced by Smokey Robinson, Mickey Stevenson and B’ANCA. Ms. Jatta’s  other stage credits include The Music Man, Jesus Christ Superstar, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Little Shop of Horrors, Simply Heavenlyand her own show Just Let Me Sing. Her film and TV credits include Veep, Deliver Us From Eva, Two Can Play That Game, The Sarah Silverman Show, Strong Medicine and more.

Sybil D. Jatta is the artist formerly known as Sybil Harris. Recently wed, she now performs under her new name.

B’ANCA directs Billie Holiday: Front and Center. She has been co-director of the ten-year run of The Passion Play, a big-cast musical. Known for her work as a production stage manager, her credits include Once in a Lifetime (Obba Babatunde’s musical tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.), and a host of other stage productions. She was a tour manager for Diana Ross. Ms. B’ANCA is the Founder of NextStageProduction.org, bring theatre to inner city youth. She is also an actor, singer and dancer. She received training at the New York Film Academy.

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