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Billie Holiday: Front and Center

Billie Holiday: Front and CenterMusical bio of Billie Holiday, with live performances of her hits.

“A must-see class act performance.”---jazz legend Barbara Morrison

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.

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 musical Sang 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 Heavenly and 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, bring theatre to inner city youth. She is also an actor, singer and dancer. She received training at the New York Film Academy.

Musical director: Casey McCoy. Drums: Fritz Wise. Saxophone: David Patterson. Bass: Michael Saucier.

Billie Holiday: Front and Center had its World Premiere in 2006 in South Pasadena at the Fremont Centre Theatre. The current engagement marks its first in the San Fernando Valley.

Billie Holiday: Front and Center promises an unforgettable portrait of an authentic American musical genius.

“For my money, Sybil’s performance is competitive with Diana Ross in 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues.”---Ed Rampell, Hollywood Progressive

“Sybil [Jatta] portrays Billie Holiday within the same mannerisms that mimic this woman down to her vocal pitches and rhythms.”---Rich Borowy, Accessibly Live

“[Jatta] emotes a sparkling yet demure stage presence, commanding the audience, with her realistic portrayal of Billie Holiday’s glamorous aura.”---Bonnie Priever, Red Curtain Up

Presenter / Producer: Champion Club Productions

Listed Categories
Theater > Drama
Theater > Musicals

Event Phone: 310-686-1520

WACO Theater Center
5144 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA 91601

LA - San Fernando Valley
North Hollywood / Burbank / Glendale

Performance Dates: 7/26/2019 - 8/18/2019
Friday, 07/26/2019
Saturday, 07/27/2019
Sunday, 07/28/2019
Friday, 08/02/2019
Saturday, 08/03/2019
Friday, 08/16/2019
Saturday, 08/17/2019
Sunday, 08/18/2019

Performance Times
Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 3:00.

Ticket Information:
: General $52 Groups of four or more $45 Students with I.D. (high school/college) $40 Seniors (65+) $30. EXCEPT the Opening Night Gala on Friday, July 26, when seats are $100.Tickets for the Opening Night Gala include dinner, and audience members are encouraged to wear fashions in the style of 1930s and 1940s.

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