Welcome to Black Voices in Cabaret.
We provide a forum for education, entertainment, and mutual support of Black artists primarily based in Chicago, the home of American cabaret in first decades of the 20th century. Before spreading to New York City, cabaret had its heart in the Black neighborhood of Bronzeville’s “stroll on State Street”.
Initiated by David M. Stephens, Managing Director Emeritus, in the summer of 2020, Black Voices in Cabaret has come together to be a resource and home for entertainers like us to learn from and grow with each other.
If you are a performer, join the BVIC roster.
BVIC initiates “Uplifting Diverse Voices in our Schools” in 2024
Our 2024 project is in direct response to Chicago teachers who have urged us to create programs that resonate especially for their Black and Latino students. We’re taking their request a step further. We want to use the power of song to inspire youth to see themselves as makers of history and social change, by bringing an array of thought-provoking performances and workshops to the junior high and high school classroom. We welcome more performers and school personnel to join us. Learn more here.
BVIC wins the American Prize!
Black Voices in Cabaret was selected from among dozens of talented ensembles across the USA as First Place Winner of The American Prize in Virtual Performance for 2022 (artists performing together/professional division). And we’re just getting started!
In Fall 2020, Working In Concert facilitated a new network of African-American cabaret artists. Our first project was the creation of the award-winning Healing through Song, a three-part virtual concert and related video-conference conversations that premiered online in March 2021.
Emceed by magician and singer David Stephens and vocalist Arlene Armstrong and recorded at PianoForte Studio and Epiphany Center for the Arts, the premiere concert brings together two dozen artists including opera singer Gwendolyn Brown, classical soprano Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, cabaret notables Lynne Jordan and Cynthia Clarey, Natalie Douglas (“Princess of Birdland” in Manhattan), Chicagoan of the Year actress E. Faye Butler, jazz singers Bobbi Wilsyn, Margaret Murphy and Ava Logan, drag queen Coco Sho-Nell, rap artists Che Rhymefest and Seany-Doo, and many more.
David Stephens, the Managing Director of BVIC, explains, “Our mission is to showcase Black performers, educate new audiences about the history of Chicago cabaret as seen through Black eyes, and uplift its repertoire beyond the standard American Songbook.”
Watch our award winning concert and conversation series now: Click the image below
ILLINOIS ARTS COUNCIL SUPPORTS BLACK VOICES IN CABARET
Working In Concert, the two-year-old performing arts collaborative, was awarded $9,200 by the Illinois Art Council to underwrite a premiere concert by Black Voices in Cabaret to launch this network of African-American performers in March 2021.
According to singer Natalie Douglas, “We’ve always been here, and we’ve always been making music in the cabaret world. But those weren’t the pictures we saw in the movies or on television. It is only through us making a fuss and saying ‘I need to be represented there, too’ that people will be open to the idea that an evening of cabaret isn’t just pretty white ladies in sparkling gowns.”
David Stephens, the Managing Director of BVIC, explains, “We are exploring the rich variety of performing styles, and highlighting both new and established performers from Chicago and beyond. We invite new audiences to get exposed to the art of cabaret and experience the intimacy of live performance.”