Texas Artist Series: Blind Lemon's Last Blues
June 30, 2017 Two performances: 2:00pm all ages matinee, 7:00pm evening performance followed by reception
Experience the rich diversity of Texas's cultural heritage. From world-renowned concert pianists to award-winning authors, cutting-edge filmmakers to dance troupes, this series explores the arts.
Blind Lemon’s Last Blues is a one-man play with music by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde about the day, December 19, 1929, when the legendary blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson died in the snow in Chicago.
Songs and monologues bring to life the voices of Blind Lemon Jefferson and his contemporaries, including Blind Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, and Lead Belly. Blind Lemon’s Last Blues is a story of the deep human need to find purpose in the foibles of life.
Blind Lemon Jefferson was born in Texas in 1893 and went on to become one of the earliest recorded performers of the blues. His unique sound and commercial success in the 1920s made him one of the most popular and influential blues musicians of all time. His music and the blues generally, are a unique genre with themes that reflect our nation's history and the African American experience from slavery, through generations of discrimination, the fight for equality and the everyday challenges we all face today.
This all ages matinee performance has a reduced admission rate. Families are encouraged to attend.
The evening performance will include opening remarks from author and playwright Alan Govenar in addition to a reception and book signing following the show.
To learn more about Blind Lemon Jefferson and his legacy, explore the resources at this website and visit the exhibit Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan, currently on view at the Bullock Museum.
“I listened to Blind Lemon Jefferson every day for five years. Blind Lemon Jefferson was the voice of Black America at that moment.” — Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson
Educators, to receive CPE credit for attending email firstname.lastname@example.org
Akin Babatundé is an accomplished actor, director, and writer whose theatrical career spans Broadway, regional theatre, film and television. He has been a resident company member of prestigious theatrical institutions throughout the country: Trinity Rep (Providence, R.I.), Alley Theater (Houston, TX), La Mama Theater (NY City) and the Dallas Theater Center. He is founder and artistic director of Vivid Theater Ensemble of Dallas and founder of Ebony Emeralds Classic Theater Company. Babatundé was the first African-American to direct for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival in the celebrated diverse production of Taming of the Shrew in 1993. As a writer, his work has been commissioned by Florida Stage, La Mama Theater, the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Brown University, the Black Academy of Arts and the and Core Ensemble. His work Shakespeare – Midnight Echoes tours in Texas paying homage to black performing artists who performed Shakespeare from slavery to the present. He has toured extensively with Core Ensemble in Of Ebony Embers – Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance. His one-man show, Before the Second Set – A Visit with Satchmo has received critical acclaim at theaters across the country. Babatundé co-wrote and starred in Blind Lemon Blues, Television appearances include “Law and Order” and “Wishbone,” the PBS literary show for children. Babatundé is a renowned arts educator, having undertaken five long-term artist residencies in underserved communities in Florida, creating new music theatre works alongside at-risk teens and community members. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts and Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Alan Govenar is a writer, folklorist, photographer and filmmaker. He is the director of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of twenty-nine books, including Everyday Music, Untold Glory: African Americans in Pursuit of Freedom, Opportunity and Achievement, Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, Lightnin’ Hopkins: His Life and Blues, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Jasper, Texas: The Community Photographs of Alonzo Jordan, and Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe–Hornbook Honor, and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English. Govenar’s film Stoney Knows How was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. Govenar has also produced and directed numerous films in association with NOVA, PBS, and La Sept/ARTE. His documentaries, The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, and You Don’t Need Feet To Dance are distributed by First Run Features. Govenar co-wrote the musical Blind Lemon Blues, which was produced at the York Theatre in New York City and toured to ten cities in Europe, including the Forum Meyrin in Switzerland, Maison des Cultures du Monde in France, and Leidse Shouwburg in The Netherlands. The off-Broadway premiere of Govenar’s new musical Texas in Paris, directed by Akin Babatunde, received rave reviews in The New York Times and The Huffington Post and garnered nominations for a Lortel Award and four Audelco Awards. Texas in Paris was presented in its European premiere at the Festival de l’Imaginaire in Paris in December 2016.
Support for the Bullock Museum's exhibitions and education programs provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.