Join us on Thursday, Feb. 23 as we welcome the Black Opry Revue to the Woody Guthrie Center® stage with the unique talents of artists Nikki Morgan and Queen Esther.
Doors: 6:30 p.m.
Show: 7 p.m.
$20 General Admission
$15 students – student tickets can be purchased in-person at the front desk of the center, must show a valid student I.D.
About the Black Opry Revue
Black Opry is a home for Black artists and Black fans of country, blues, folk, and Americana music. Country music has been made by and loved by Black people since its conception. For just as long, we have been overlooked and disregarded in the genre by fans and executives. Black Opry wants to change that. We invite you to discover, support and enjoy the Black artists that make magic in this space. One of the most valuable aspects of country music is its versatility and diversity in sound. Country, blues, folk, and Americana music often overlap or weave together- these artists explore all of those sounds and intersections. The Black Opry Revue showcases the diversity in sound and stories that Black artists offer to these genres.
About the Featured Artists
Described as “…the unknown queen of Americana…” (Feedback, Norway), “..a Black Lucinda Williams…” and a “…brutal, original, explosive singer…” (Vanity Fair, Spain), Queen Esther’s creative output musically is the culmination of several critical Southern elements, not the least of which are years of recording and touring internationally as frontwoman for several projects with her mentor, harmolodic guitar icon James “Blood” Ulmer, including a stint in his seminal band Odyssey. Raised in Atlanta, GA and embedded in Charleston, SC’s Lowcountry – a region with African traditions and Black folkways that span centuries and constantly inform her work – Queen Esther uses her Southern roots as a touchstone to explore cultural mores in America, deconstructing well-worn historical narratives while creating a reclamation-driven soundscape.
A member of SAG/AFTRA, Actors Equity, Dramatists Guild and the Recording Academy, her work as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, solo performer, playwright and librettist has led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alt-theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip-hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off-Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art.
Queen Esther’s most recent work includes a performance with her western swing collective The Black Rose of Texas at Lincoln Center’s 2022 Summer for the City that included a workshop at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a grant from The 2022 New York City Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater for Blackbirding, an alt-country album she’s currently recording – written during an all media artist residency at Gettysburg National Military Park. A proud member of Actor’s Equity, SAG/AFTRA, The Dramatists Guild and The Recording Academy, her critically acclaimed 2021 Black Americana album Gild The Black Lily is the fourth release on her imprint EL Recordings – and her 2018 TED Talk about the true origins of country and bluegrass continues to reverberate throughout the Americana community.
Coming in 2023: Rona, an EP of rangy alt-Americana songs written in Harlem during the early months of the pandemic lockdown and Things Are Looking Up, a jazz album of original songs and Lady Day’s lost classics.
As the daughter of a minister and kin to a lot of church folk Nikki grew up listening to traditional gospel/christian music and spent much of her grade school days involved in school band playing clarinet and oboe. But, despite her early exposure to music, it wasn’t until the tender age of 28 when she finally began to start making music of her own.
Nikki was born and raised in North Carolina but Chicago is where she found her first home as a performer and songwriter. Starting out in the open mic scene it didn’t take long for her to garner local support and make her way to some great stages around the midwest: opening for acts such as Jaime Wyatt, Caroline Spence, Boo Ray, and Sean Watkins.
She is a former winner of the awarded Uncommon Ground Songwriting competition; she has been voted as a ‘Judge’s Pick’ in the Nashville Rising Song contest, and recently had her single Love.Save.Me make it to the semi-final round of the International Songwriting Competition.
Nikki finds a way to combine captivating melodies and insightful lyrics with a voice full of raw passion. Her music is unapologetic in it efforts to grapple with real life; and yet elegantly embodies the essence of her “Carolina Soul”.