GLOW’s ‘Raising Voices’ explores culture

Greenville News

Donna Isbell Walker , diwalker@greenvillenews.com

Published 10:15 a.m. ET Jan. 10, 2017 | Updated 11:21 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2017

GLOW Lyric Theatre has a specific goal in mind with its new “Raising Voices” cabaret series: To celebrate diversity, to shine a spotlight on artists whose work often goes unseen and unheard.

The first performance in the series, Saturday’s “And Still I Rise,” focuses on African-American culture, through original music, dance and poetry.

The production, which takes place at the Greenville County School District’s Fine Arts Center, includes “a mixture of all genres of traditionally African-American music, including gospel, jazz, soul, classical music,” said GLOW’s artistic director Jenna Tamisiea. “The music is sort of meant to celebrate the rich history that black singers and composers and instrumentalists have created in this country. What’s interesting about the piece is that, in utilizing music that is traditionally of an African-American style, we’re really using this music to tell a contemporary story about what it’s like to be black in our community.”

The cast includes four singers, a dancer, a poet and five instrumentalists. Composer Jon Grier created two compositions especially for the production, and poet Ashley Lumpkin will perform two original pieces.

“We’re seeing inside the personal lives of these artists. … They’re essentially portraying themselves. And the pieces that they chose, they chose because it meant something to them and it was something they wanted to share, a story that they wanted to share,” Tamisiea said.

The “Raising Voices” series came out of a group of forums that GLOW held last summer for artists in the Upstate.

What they learned, Tamisiea said, was that many artists “feel under-represented or marginalized, including artists of color or artists of varying sexual orientations, often felt like there was no opportunity for them to be a part of the arts in this community. We as a company work very hard to keep diversity at the forefront of what we’re doing.”

While the elements of the cabaret are connected by a theme, it isn’t like a typical theater production with a storyline and specific characters.

But there is one character who helps to tie the elements together, Tamisiea said.

“We do have a character of a storyteller who weaves in and out; she’s the only through-line you can see in the piece. … She’s an African storyteller, and she serves as a connection to the heritage that all of these black singers share,” she said.

The “Raising Voices” series will also include a Feb. 14 production titled “Love Is Love Is Love,” and a March 19 performance, “Milan to Moscow.”


What: “Raising Voices” cabaret production “And Still I Rise”

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fine Arts Center, 102 Pine Knoll Drive Walker , diwalker@greenvillenews.com

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