Angela Watson
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Angela Watson

Band Jazz R&B


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The best kept secret in music


"If you werent there..."

Let me be the first to say that if you were not at Solomon's Porch last night for the debut of Angela Watson and the Nu Jazz Band, then you blew it. They were nothing short of amazing. This was one of those transcendent moments where you could feel that energy in the room letting you know something big was happening. Angela, I was so proud of you and the band and like highpoint of the evening was saying, I know your change is gon' come!
- George Oliver

"Jubilee's latest show laughs at life on the Chitlin Circuit"

Stop me if you've heard this one: Playwright diannetucker, composer Joe Rogers and director Rudy Eastman are collaborating on a new musical premiering at Jubilee Theatre.

Judging from earlier teamings of this trio (Fat Freddy's and Attitude, Girlfriend, Attitude), that's good news for audiences.

The latest vehicle is Road Show, and the setting is that singular phenomenon known as the Chitlin Circuit, a showbiz nickname for the network of venues appealing to African-American audiences. The Chitlin Circuit dates to post-Civil War-era shows. In the 20th century, it helped launch the careers of singers Bessie Smith, James Brown, and Ike and Tina Turner, and comedians including Bernie Mac. In the new century, it continues to fill the Black Academy of Arts & Letters in Dallas and other halls around the nation with shows and stars that most white theatergoers have never heard of.

The Road Show story, which sprang from an idea by director Eastman, is set in Amarillo, where a Chitlin Circuit troupe is concluding a tour of Mama, I Don't Want To Sing in No Beauty Shop. (The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to two popular shows on the real circuit.)

Heading the troupe is one August Avery, a perennially penniless actor/impresario. His shows sell out, but he seldom pays his bills. As he and his actors arrive in Amarillo, August is visited by a pair who call themselves Two Young Killaz and who have serious reservations about Avery's accounting procedures.

"Avery is a conniving and self-centered guy," says Robert Rouse Jr., the Jubilee audience favorite who portrays him. "He's always trying to get something for nothing, always manipulating people. You could say he's a crook in some ways."

As it goes in art, so it goes in life. Rumors of Avery-type producers have hounded the Chitlin Circuit for generations.

Avery's bankable stars are Myra Murdock, a one-time Grammy nominee played by Carolyn Hatcher, and Bradley Dillon, a womanizing former sitcom star played by Kevin Johnson. Other company members are man-hungry Vonda (Eleanor T. Threatt), ingenue Jamillah (Angela Watson) and put-upon Jesse, (Keron L. Jackson), the stage manager who holds the diverse crew together.

Performance times are 8:15 p.m. Fridays; 3:15 and 8:15 p.m. Saturdays; and 3:15 p.m. Sundays. All tickets are $8 for previews this weekend. After that, ticket prices range from $16 to $25. During the regular run, tickets are two-for-one at Saturday matinees and at three Thursday-evening shows July 24, Aug. 7 and Aug. 14.

- Perry Stewart

"Jubilee encapsulates the history of mankind with great Rhythm."

Kevin Halliburton, Carolyn Hatcher, and Robert Rouse Jr. in "Rhythm; A Musical Myth," at Jubilee Theatre
Rhythm: A Musical Myth
Early in his career, composer Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical comedy called The Frogs whose cast of characters include the Greek god Dionysus, Shakespeare, and George Bernard Shaw, and part of which is set in Hell. (The show has recently been revised by actor Nathan Lane and mounted on the New York stage.) Jubilee Theatre’s new original production, Rhythm: A Musical Myth, embarks on similar but even more chaotic waters: writer-composers Rudy Eastman and Joe Rogers have expanded Sondheim’s mix of ancient and modern, mortal and celestial to include the gods Vishnu, Ra, and Zeus; a disaster-plagued human race; and a little red box that looks suspiciously like it belonged to someone named Pandora. As director Eastman noted before last Saturday’s matinee: "We took the major myths and legends of the world, threw them in a pot, and mixed in some collard greens."

The result is a hot, chunky stew of musical and comic pleasures, often brought to a boil by the standing ovation that typically accompanies each performance. Rhythm: A Musical Myth marks something else in the evolution of Jubilee’s musical theater. Too often, this company’s productions are long on harmonic virtuosity and short on narrative impact. While Eastman’s Rhythm script could be accused of introducing too much business on the company’s small stage, the author ties it all together impressively and gives most of his performers either a standout role or, at least, a scene-stealing line or two. Even that oft-scorned deus ex machina -- the abrupt and convenient wrap-up by the attendant gods -- works satisfyingly within the show’s comic framework.

While there is a considerable breadth of knowledge about exotic deities and their foibles in Rhythm, audiences who approach this as some kind of primer for ancient cultures will bleed all the fun out of it. Who needs Joseph Campbell when you have two bumbling heroes named Ace (Robert Rouse) and Deuce (Kevin Halliburton)? As their introductory number "Who I Am" establishes, the pair are con artists ("I am / Therefore I scam") who peddle a magic elixir that, in the 20th century, would go by the name "bootleg liquor." Ace stumbles upon a small crimson treasure box that he can’t open; he decides to sell it on the black market. Unfortunately, that box served to plug up "the orifice of hell" as well as the wily schemes of an underworld god named Lucius (Marcellous Hayes, dudded up like Sean Combs) and his sexy consort Lovie (Crystal Phillips). This greatly displeases Zeus (Major Attaway), Ra (Eleanor T. Threatt), and Vishnu (Abel Baldazo), who carelessly create a brave but dumb Hero (Wendell L. Holden, Jr.) to pursue Ace and Deuce and retrieve the box.

If that’s not enough, throw in an overprotective Mother Nature (Sheran Goodspeed-Keyton, in giant floral hat and yellow-daisy flip-flops) and her naÔve daughter Babygirl (Angela Watson); a grumpy old oracle named Della Phi Jones (Carolyn Hatcher) who accompanies her predictions with copyright infringement warnings; and the family of Man Kind, headed by Mr. Kind (Jesse Gause) and Mrs. Kind (Cecilia Fitzpatrick). The latter troop lugubriously across the stage at key moments, hoping for a better future at those next stops in Atlantis and Gommorrah. Through the intersecting plot lines are woven 20 -- count ’em, 20 -- songs with accompaniment by conductor Joe Rogers’ crackshot? live band, which has no problem segueing from polyrhythmic African sounds to straight blues to slinky R&B to Broadway-style balladry.

You have to catch Rhythm in person to be awed at how expertly this large cast keeps Eastman’s bulky script surging forward with light-footed joy. Much of the comic asides are tossed with an improvisational energy, creating the sensation of a giant world unfolding spontaneously before your eyes. Like most theater companies in the area, Jubilee does not possess an epic production budget, so special mention should go to costumer Barbara O’ Donoghue, who can spotlight immortals like Vishnu and Ra with just the right headdress and makes the most of robes, rags, togas, and bare feet.

I can’t heap much praise on Jubilee’s splendid core of actor-singers that hasn’t been piled in past reviews. To the principals in the cast: You know who -- and how good -- you are. It’s great to see Carolyn Hatcher return after a year’s absence; her Della Phi Jones is a relatively small but memorable role, and she gets to do a great comedic riff on Etta James’ "Stop the Wedding." ("Wait ... wait ... stop the bullshit, ya’ll.") Newcomer Angela Watson has a gorgeous crystalline voice displayed to great effect in "When I Sing." Crystal Phillips as the succubus Lovie gets to vamp like a Mae West who can actually sing on "The Best That I Can." The only legitimate criticism that could be leveled at Rhythm: A Musical - JIMMY FOWLER


Miracle Worker-2000
True Love- 2005,2007


Feeling a bit camera shy


Ms. Angela Elizabeth Watson was born to Robert L. Willis and Lynder Watson on January 31, 1981 in Houston, Texas. Raised between Houston and Dobbin, Texas, Angela grew up in a musical family. Angela took leadership in her high school chorale being the first to make all state choir first chair in the school district. Angela moved to Fort Worth, Texas to study at Texas Christian University on a music scholarship in 1998.While there, Angela studied with World-renowned Raymond Bazemore and performing in works such as The Marriage of Figaro. She also directed the famous Word of Truth gospel choir, becoming the most progressive and influential director since its work with Kirk Franklin. In 1999, she joined Complete in Christ (C-n-C), a music ministry of five singers. The group recorded a Cd entitled Miracle Worker for which Angela wrote four songs, including the title track, and cowrote three other songs. In 2000, Angela began her career as a solo artist and Christ side Connections, a non-profit production company. She was a guest artist on the Christ side Connections' collaboration album for the Children's Miracle Network. She has also appeared as a solo artist around the Metro-plex and surrounding areas, sharing the stage with artists such as Cece Winans,Tarralyn Ramsey, Shirley Murdock, Darryl Blair and others. Angela then became an actress at Lyric Stage and Jubilee theater starring in original cast roles such as "Jamillah" in Road Show a musical and "Baby girl" in Rhythm, a musical myth. In 2005, Angela performed her first solo concert officially introducing her to the world as a recording artist. From this concert, Angela cofounded a band called 51/50 that gained her exposure with people such as Erykah Badu. Angela then began appearing at local events such as Afterthought’s Part 2 at Tiki’s Restaurant in Dallas, Lyricists Café in Fort Worth and the Kat's Lair. Also sparking the attention of the local radio station she appeared on Dallas own 105.7 and guest artist for Radio Personality Erykah James. After years in the Dallas Forth Worth circuit Angela decided to take her music to Houston Texas. While in Houston she became an actress at the two most famous black theaters in Houston, the Ensemble and the Encore Theater. Making guest appears at clubs such as M Bar, and Nomad Poetry night. After co founding a non profit theater company, Angela moved to New York to further her music career. Since moving to New York, Angela has been a guest on the Today’s Show, and guest artist for Wynton Marsalis. Currently Angela is the Music Director at Nazarene Congregational UCC as well as sing with the infamous Marble Collegiate Gospel Choir and Medgar Evers Alumni Choir scheduled for recording February 2007.

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