NEW YORK, April 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In anticipation of the HBO film, "Bessie," chronicling the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, HBO announces the launch of 'Bessie's 81 Theatre Tour' on April 28. Kicking off in New York City, the two-city event series will coincide with the Manhattan red carpet premiere of the film, which stars Oscar® nominee Queen Latifah as Smith. The film also stars Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Tika Sumpter, Charles S. Dutton, Oscar® winner Mo'Nique and more. The tour will conclude in Los Angeles in May leading up to the on air premiere on May 16th.
Honoring Smith's legacy, the invite-only event series will not only build awareness around the upcoming film but will highlight local music acts in each city and also offer students and aspiring musicians the chance to hone their skills, with top songwriter Stacy Barthe and acclaimed Grammy-winning producer Bryan Michael Cox. The private workshop will feature a Q&A with Cox and Barthe and arm attendees of the workshop with tools to further their musical careers to build their repertoire.
Both New York and Los Angeles will also feature a Music Showcase, comprised of a series of performances from local artists, selected by industry insiders. Each city will conclude with a private dinner for 50 native influencers, handpicked by the brand. A surprise performance by an A-list act will follow each dinner. The program's DJ-in-residence for New York and Los Angeles will be storied hip-hop DJ D-Nice, a Bronx native who rose to prominence in the 1980s as a member of hip-hop group Boogie Down Productions.
"When thinking about how we wanted to build buzz about the film, we wanted to do something that was completely unique and immersive," said Lucinda Martinez, SVP of Multicultural Marketing. "We're confident that this event series properly honors the legacy of Bessie Smith by showcasing aspiring songwriters and producers. We want to raise awareness for the film, create connections and offer these young creatives a platform to share their craft. And hopefully inspire, through Bessie, the next great artist."
Born in Chattanooga, TN in 1894, Smith first rose to fame thanks to her track "Downhearted Blues." She eventually became one of the highest paid African-American performers of the 1920s. During her career, Smith held residence at Atlanta's 81 Theatre, where she performed on numerous occasions. HBO's film focuses on Smith's transformation from a struggling young singer into "The Empress of the Blues," one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today.
'Bessie' premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 16th at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.bessiethemovie.com. To join the conversation on social media about the event series, followers should use the tour's official hashtag #Bessie81Tour.
Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world's most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services – HBO® and Cinemax® – to approximately 122 million subscribers worldwide. The services offer the popular subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand® and Cinemax On Demand®, as well as HBO GO® and MAX GO®, HD feeds and multiplex channels. Beginning in April 2015, HBO will also offer a standalone video streaming service, HBO NOW, in the U.S. Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand and HBO GO, bring HBO services to over 60 countries. HBO and Cinemax programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide.