Angela Watson
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Angela Watson

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"Local Church Hosts Musical for Former Student to Further Endeavors"

Local Church Hosts Musical for Former Student to Further Endeavors

Dobbin, Texas-Drawing a close to the current chapter in her life, Dobbin native Angela Watson-Willis is saying goodbye from the same place that gave her her first opportunities to share her gifts.

"It was God who gave me my voice, and His people here in the churches of this community that taught me to sing His praise," said Watson. "I wanted to make sure that those same people could come together again to see that I'm taking with me all that I've learned and that I'm going with some people who were taught the same things," said Watson.

On Sunday evening August 13 at 6:00 p.m. the family and friends of Watson will come together in song at the Porter Chapel A.M.E.-Zion Church of Dobbin, located at 1308 S. FM 1486 Road, for a farewell musical.

Watson, a 1998 graduate of Montgomery High School and daughter of the late Robert "Bobby" Willis, is a co-founder of the entertainment organization GEMKNEM Troupe, Inc. She and GEMKNEM will be relocating to New York to enhance abilities and expand the reach of GEMKNEM's artistic and social programs. GEMKNEM recently produced the critically acclaimed play The Race in Houston. The play, written by Watson and two friends and co-founders of GEMKNEM, DeJamion McDowell and George Oliver, speaks of modern life in the African-American community from a non-traditional standpoint. "I think that's why it got so much attention from the press and audiences, because we didn't give them the same old story," said Watson.

Oliver concurred. "We recently heard from major theatres as far away as San Diego that said there is a lot of buzz about our work and people are interested in having us tell our side of the story all over the country," said Oliver. Many people may remember Oliver from the 2005 Crighton Theatre production of the Broadway Musical Big River, in which Oliver portrayed Jim. Oliver, a native of Huntsville and graduate of Sam Houston State University, will join Watson in the farewell musical.

"Dobbin and the Tri-community have become like a second home to me," said McDowell, a native of Houston, who met Watson doing professional acting at Houston's celebrated Ensemble Theatre. "I had to be here to share in this occasion, because now I'm going to see where she gets it from," McDowell added.

Watson has distinguished herself as a Renaissance performer, having excelled in music, acting, directing, and writing. Prior to relocating to Houston, Watson was an artist in residence at Ft. Worth's prestigious Jubilee Theatre. She has criss-crossed the state and country singing in churches, concert halls, college campuses, and studios. She has backed up major celebrities like Shirley Murdoch. Most notably to locals Watson made history as Montgomery High School's first Texas All-State Choir Member, placing first in the final competition in 1998.

Watson hopes to see familiar faces at the farewell musical. "I want those who were here from the start to be here as I depart," said Watson.

For more information on how you can participate in the service or to get more information on GEMKNEM please call (817) 944-0354 or e-mail

- Montgomery County News

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

By Perry Stewart
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Published: Friday, July 11, 2003

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.
- Fort Worth Star Telegram

"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

Thru Aug 22 at Jubilee Theatre, 506 Main St, FW. $16-25. 817-338-4411 or
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 " - Fort Worth Star Telegram


" Worker" -2000
"Love Anthology"- Summer 2008 Release
True Love- Airplay



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 performed 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 co-wrote 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 co-founded a band called 51/50, which 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 Gemknem, Troupe Inc., 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 recording her debut CD "Love Anthology" scheduled to be released summer of 2008.