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The Gospel Electric, A Family Program
December 14, 2019 - December 15, 2019
As part of its educational programming, the Armory will premiere its next commission for young audiences from The Electric Doyenne by Trusty Sidekick Theater Company. The Electric Doyenne is a trilogy of theatrical, immersive live concerts intended for young audiences (age 10 and up) and their families each surrounding a different prominent woman in music history, while reimagining what a concert and music theater experience for young people can be. Each features exciting original music by the performers and asks young people to grapple with new ideas about the impact of art.
In 1939, evangelical Christians and gospel music listeners had decided Sister Rosetta Tharpe had lost her way. Her music was too risqué and her sound was too cavalier. Yet, somehow, this young woman from Cotton Plant, Arkansas, stitched together a musical palette of Mississippi Delta, Chicago blues, Philadelphia church music, and New York swing to create an entirely new sound, and in the process, became the most renowned female gospel singer and musician of the day and is considered by many to be the “Godmother of Rock’ n’ Roll.”
The Gospel Electric explores her musical coming of age and her navigation of a segregated, male driven, and spiritually overbearing society. Combining original songs as well as motifs and songs from Tharpe herself, the new work asks the question, “who decides what ‘holy’ sounds like?” This third and final installment of The Electric Doyenne receives its world premiere in December 2019 with performances presented to students from underserved New York City public schools as part of the arts education program as well as public showings for families. The project is inspired by the Armory’s building and advances the Armory’s role as an incubator of new works for young audiences and a leader in arts education.