Blues ring out at Belfry

Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story, stars Canadian jazz legend Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson in Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story can be seen at the Belfry Theatre until Aug. 19.

A new Blues musical, Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story, stars Canadian jazz legend Jackie Richardson backed by an all-star band including Juno nominee Bill Johnson, Ron Casat and Andy Graffiti.

Willie Mae Thornton began singing in her father’s Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and by the age of 14 she was touring with the Hot Harlem Revue.

In 1951, Thornton signed a recording contract with Peacock Records and subsequently recorded Hound Dog, the Leiber and Stoller-penned tune that was written for her and stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks. Three years later, the song would launch the career of Elvis Presley.

Like Big Mama, Richardson got her start singing in church. A multi-faceted performer, Richardson has won two Dora Awards (Toronto Theatre Awards) for Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Cookin’ at the Cookery; a Gemini Award for The Gospel According to the Blues and she’s been nominated for Junos, Jessies (Vancouver theatre awards), Betties (Calgary theatre awards) and, in the U.S, an NAACP Image Award.

The soulful revue pays homage to blues singer Thornton: the godmother of rock and roll. With a vocal style not easy to imitate, only a few – like Janis Joplin – have been able to summon Thornton’s mix of raw power and deep emotion.

The show runs until Sunday Aug. 19 in the Belfry Theatre Mainstage, 1291 Gladstone Ave. Tickets start at $25 and are available at 250-385-6815 or online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island riders conquering new heights

With no races, cyclists tackle Everest challenge to lift community

Saanich police search for suspect accused of using stolen credit, debit cards

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers says suspect made numerous fraudulent purchases

Homeless woman sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling drugs to Victoria police officer

Officer paid $20 for a substance consisting of heroin, fentanyl and caffeine

Family restaurant to hold Saturday fundraiser for Beirut blast

Wrap and Roll will donate all sales to victims of blast

Police looking for witnesses of alleged assault in Burnside Gorge’s Cecila Ravine

Concerned woman pushed to the ground, had phone broken while taking a photo of a dog

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read