Vanessa Rubin to Star in Black Rep's Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday


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Singer Vanessa Rubin (pictured) is coming to St. Louis to star in the Black Rep's production of Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday, which will run Wednesday, February 24 through Sunday, March 14 at the Grandel Theater, 3610 Grandel Square (just west of Grand Ave).

The play by Reenie Upchurch tells the story of Holiday's last performance at a New York club, incorporating songs such as “My Man", “Strange Fruit", “Fine and Mellow" and “God Bless the Child."

Rubin is originally from Cleveland and has performed with many well-known jazz musicians, including St. Louis' own Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Lionel Hampton, the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, Cecil Bridgewater, Etta Jones, Toots Thielemans, Steve Turre, Cedar Walton, Grover Washington, Jr., Herbie Hancock, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Jazz Crusaders.

Interestingly, a performance of “God Bless The Child" helped steer Rubin toward a career in music. After earning her degree in journalism from Ohio State, Rubin sang the song while competing in the Miss Black Central Ohio contest and got a standing ovation, which caused her to reconsider her vocational choices. First signed to RCA Novus in 1991, Rubin has recorded seven albums as a leader, but for a time also held down a job in the NYC public school system, and she's also been actively involved in jazz education. She portrayed Holiday last year in a production of Yesterdays for Hartford Stage, and you can read more about that here.

Rubin will be joined on stage in St. Louis by Levi Barcourt (musical director and piano), David Jackson (bass) and Bernard Davis (drums). Tickets for the Black Rep's production of Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday range in price from $43 to $17, and are on sale now via Metrotix.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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