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Please plan to come to the next screening of Voices for Freedom – the Hyers Sisters’ Legacy, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, June 23, 2 pm. Free to the public.
This documentary is now on PBS nationally and the festival version has won 6 international awards. See detail here and at www.TheHyersSisters.com
The Hip-hop poet who appears periodically in the film to comment on this period story for our day says, "What do you bring to the table of life? Do you just wait some time? Life passes by." The Hyers made a way in perilous times with their talents where there had been no way. They refused to wait and used love, laughter and talent to create works that changed minds and hearts in their mainstream audiences. Their inspiring story is colorful and important because it reveals hidden history and sheds light upon many of the social attitudes that persist today.
Who? Anna and Emma Hyers were operatic prodigies, products of the 1860's civil-rights communities of Sacramento and San Francisco. They who used their art to fight against the profiling and ridicule of their people from 1876-1894. The first African-American women to tour successfully across the Land in concert opera, they are also credited with commissioning and popularizing the first American musicals.
The year 1876 ushered in a period of widespread oppression for workers and terror for African Americans, and in 1877, when federal troops were withdrawn from the South, lynching and night riding increased as black-face minstrel shows mocked black people across the Land. The attitudes that they produced later fueled social restrictions, such as “separate but equal.”
Despite the perilous times, The Hyers Sisters, as products of their civil-rights communities, stood up for the dignity of their people -- They left concert opera and used their popularity to bring black leading players and integrated casts to American Music Theater for the first time; they produced characters who were like real people rather than caricatures within sympathetic and entertaining musical stories. These "stories" changed minds and hearts and are now known as the first American musicals. And, they were the first black women to tour under top management.
The musical troupes that followed copied many of the Hyers' innovations, so US Music Theater and human rights owe them a debt of thanks.
VOICES FOR FREEDOM tells this story for the first time.
Here's an appearance on Good Day Sacramento about the film when it was first broadcast:
Here is the correct url for my films. Please use this one. Somehow I have two sites:
A lot is happening.
=Both films --Voices for Freedom and MEET MARY PLEASANT are on PBS nationally now, and next, you can hear me talk about Mary Ellen Pleasant and my work with her in film on stage
Oct. 26 at 4pm on NPR - The California Report. Tune into…Continue