In the first event of its kind for the city, Fort Worth Opera will present an all-star benefit concert called "A Night of Black Excellence: Past, Present, and Future" to celebrate Black History Month. The concert will take place virtually at 2 pm Sunday, February 21.
According to a release, the event will honor "the rich cultural legacy, inspiring contributions, and trailblazing talents of Black musicians, composers, and librettists" through music, dance, and spoken word poetry. It will be hosted by Tashara Parker, anchor of WFAA Channel 8’s Daybreak, and will feature performances by local and internationally renowned artists.
“Fort Worth Opera’s celebration of Black History Month is long overdue and appropriate in this time," says FWO General Director Afton Battle in the release. "We are overjoyed to have a line-up of A+, international Black classical and non-classical artists, living both locally in the DFW metroplex and throughout the county. It is my distinct joy and pleasure to introduce, many for the first time, this roster of Black Excellence to the city of Fort Worth.”
Scheduled performers include Patrice P. Eaton, Nicole Heaston, Cameo Humes, Keron Jackson, Latonia Moore, NaGuanda Nobles, Kenneth Overton, Chivonne Perkins, Adam Richardson, Audra Scott, Karen Slack, Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas, Darius Thomas, Kevin Thompson, and Jorell Williams.
Additionally, spoken word poet and author Leslie N. Polk will be accompanied by The Mondo Drummers. And there'll be appearances by Dallas-based Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble; Amphibian Stage: Tad-Poles Stilt Dancing Program; Houston’s pop string quartet, Amp’d Quartet, presented by DIVISI; and Black History narratives by Baldwin Brown (Principal of Fort Worth’s historic I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA).
The production is directed by FWO's Sheran Goodspeed Keyton and produced by Charles W. Bush of Appointed Productions. Of note, the Tarrant County Pearls Chapter of The Society, Incorporated will sponsor the event for the first time. The Society, Incorporated is a national nonprofit made up of altruistic and professional women of color who promote youth in the arts to better communities. According to the release, the Tarrant County Pearls Chapter became the organization’s newest chartered Chapter, on October 11, 2020.
Battle, who was appointed last fall and became the company's first Black general director, says the concert meets the moment in American history.
“Our country was built on the backs of an enslaved people, my ancestors," she says. "When they stepped foot on this foreign land, they carried with them traditions of family, culture, food, movement and song, many of which we all enjoy today. This celebration of Black History is more than a month. It’s more than the 28/29 days in February, it is an expression. An expression of all things excellent about Black people and our culture.”
The concert will stream on the company’s digital platform, FWO Green Room, and all proceeds will go to FWO initiatives. Tickets, $25-$80, will go on sale January 21 on the company's website.