Promotional poster for Bessie, Billie & Nina: Pioneering Women in Jazz.

'Bessie, Billie and Nina
Pioneering Women in Jazz'

7 p.m. Sunday, March 7, 2021 | Polsky Theatre

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5+ Event Season Package 8+ Event Season Package

6 p.m. Pre-show talk


Three dynamic vocalists celebrate the enduring legacies of three iconic female artists.


From the Jim Crow era through the turbulent 1960s, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone were among the most influential and popular singers of their times. They wielded their exceptional talents to combat racial prejudice, sexism and poverty and defied social norms, embracing self-empowerment through their art.

Whether it was Bessie Smith powerfully and playfully claiming her autonomy and sexuality, Billie Holiday forcing the country to acknowledge the racism pervasive in the American South and beyond, or Nina Simone giving voice to the Civil Rights movement with stirring protest anthems, these trailblazing singers spoke to and for the disenfranchised as women, African-Americans and artists.

Produced by Grammy-winning Eli Wolf, Bessie, Billie & Nina: Pioneering Women in Jazz features three dynamic vocalists: Charenée Wade, Camille Thurman and Tahira Clayton. Presented in affiliation with Women In Jazz Organization and backed by an all-female band, Wade, Thurman and Clayton celebrate the enduring legacies of these iconic women with breathtaking performances of their classic songs.

Presented in affiliation with WIJO (Women in Jazz Organization). Supported by a grant from Chamber Music America.