Regina Taylor’s Crowns is now up and running in the Albert Theatre, and while the festive gospel musical has been one of the most frequently performed musicals in the country over the last decade, audiences who have already experienced Crowns are in for an unexpected treat when they see what we’ve come up with for this 10th anniversary show. Regina has reworked parts of the story and fleshed out the music and dance of the piece, building a much bigger and more expansive production that still stays true to the spirit of the original. She’s dubbed this new crowns a “revisal”—both a revision and a revival.
One of the more notable elements of the revisal is that the story is now closely tied to Chicago—in the original version of Crowns young Yolanda hailed from Brooklyn; in this production she’s from Englewood. Part of the inspiration behind this shift in setting is from Regina’s personal relationship to Chicago, a city where she has created some of her most renowned theater works but only recently made her full-time home. But also, Chicago is world-renowned for its gospel community, and as part of a greater effort to connect this gospel musical to the community, select performances of Crowns will feature guest vocalists from the Chicago gospel scene singing the classic hymn How I Got Over. In honor of the city’s gospel tradition and its deep well of musical talent, Regina has tapped local luminaries, including Darius Brooks, Kim Stratton, DeWayne Woods, Faith Howard, Brian W. Smith, Jonathan McReynolds, Mildred Williams, Jaye Brown, Carya Holmes and Martin Woods, to sing at these performances. Visit the Crowns play detail page for more information and scheduling updates.
Saturday, July 14 @ 8pm—Jaye Brown
JAYE BROWN was born and raised in Chicago's West Side, and found his path to music at an early age. He was raised in a family that is deeply rooted in gospel music, and he has chosen to continue their legacy by creating music that will reach people from all walks of life, with fresh sounds and captivating lyrical content. Mr. Brown is currently working on a debut project that is scheduled to be released later this year. To stay connected please follow him on twitter at @JayeIAM.
Wednesday, July 18 @ 7:30pm—Mildred Williams
MILDRED WILLIAMS is one of Chicago's most energetic and enthusiastic worship leaders, known as “The little girl with a powerful voice.” She currently serves as the Minister of Music at Giant Steps Church (Pastor Sean McMillian). She ministers full-time across the nation, and singing with gospel artists such as DeAndre Patterson, Mark Hubbard, Richard Smallwood, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin, Byron Cage and many more. She is a mother of three, and was born and raised in the church atmosphere.
Saturday, July 21 @ 8pm—Carya Holmes
CARYA HOLMES is a Chicago native who possesses a passion for touching souls through inspirational music. As a child, Ms. Holmes enjoyed singing in the church choir and other events that gave her a chance to express herself through song. Holmes’ passion for singing has developed into an elevating career. She has worked with Grammy Award winners Smokie Norful, Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker and Richard Smallwood. She is currently a background vocalist for Pastor Marvin Sapp. On September 11, 2010, she released her debut album, FREE, which featured various musical genres, including traditional gospel, ballads and soft rock.
Tuesday, July 31 @ 7:30pm—Brian Wesley Smith
Wednesday, August 1 @ 7:30pm—DeWayne Woods
DEWAYNE WOODS is a multiple Stellar Award winner and the protégé of famed producer Donald Lawrence. He has served as background vocals coordinator for some of today’s biggest talent, including Celine Dion and has sung as lead vocals on two albums with R&B legends Atlantic Starr. In 2008, Mr. Woods won four Stellar awards, including song of the year for his hit “Let Go.” In April, 2011, his “It Might Be Hope” was the theme song for the Silver Rose Weekend, chaired by Halle Berry, for the Jenesse Center. Mr. Woods is also a celebrated actor and has appeared in numerous stage plays and musicals, and in March, 2012, he was selected as an understudy in the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which was written and produced by Stephen King, with music by John Mellencamp.
Friday, August 3 @ 8pm—Kim Stratton
KIM STRATTON is a Stellar, Dove and Grammy nominated singer and songwriter, who began her career as a solo artist for Glorious/Integrity Music. Known as Kim “Powerhouse” Stratton, her inspired music includes “More Than Enough,” “I’m In This Place,” “I Feel Jesus,” “I Will Praise Thee, O Lord” and “Rendezvous, ” to name a few. Her most recent project with Living Word Christian Center (Dr. Bill S. Winston), “Favor Ain’t Fair,” is now being played nationwide, and her powerful interpretation of “Awesome Wonder” is taking her ministry to a new level. Both of these songs were produced by Donald Lawrence. Additionally, Ms. Stratton recently wrote and recorded her new song “Broken” with Shekinah Glory, produced by Daniel Weatherspoon. She travels nationally and internationally as Psalmist for conferences and conventions, and as speaker for women’s ministries, and will soon release her new book, My Life’s Poetry.
Saturday, August 4 @ 8pm Martin Woods
Sunday, August 5 @ 7:30pm—Faith Howard
FAITH HOWARD is a native of Chicago. She is the protégé of “The Queen of Gospel Music,” Albertina Walker, and was the first recipient of the Albertina Walker Foundation Scholarship for the Creative and Performing Arts. Ms. Howard currently serves as one of the praise and worship leaders at New Life Covenant Church, under the leadership of Pastor John F. Hannah. Ms. Howard has lent vocals to many gospel artists, including Yolanda Adams, Bishop Walter Hawkins, CeCe Winans, Marvin Sapp, DeWayne Woods, Shirley Caesar, Kurt Carr, Albertina Walker, Jessy Dixon and Walter Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago, to name a few.
Wednesday, August 8 @ 7:30pm—Jonathan McReynolds
JONATHAN MCREYNOLDS is a 22-year-old recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago, and one of the city’s most promising upcoming artists. Now partnering with Tehillah/Light Records, he plans to bring a new level of transparency and genuineness to Christian music, and to spread his brand of music, coined “Life Music,” to encourage people to love God with their entire lives.
Sunday August 12 @ 7:30pm—Darius Brooks