EXCLUSIVE: HBO Honors Bessie Smith With Bessie's 81 Theatre Tour

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Honors Bessie Smith With Bessie's 81 Theatre Tour

As HBO readies the film "Bessie," they deliver a theater tour starting April 28.

Published April 15, 2015

As HBO readies the May 16 release of their biopic Bessie — a film detailing the life of Blues legend Bessie Smith — the network will kick off an event series called Bessie's 81 Theatre Tour. The two-city tour will hit both New York and Los Angeles starting April 28.

While the film will remain at the helm of the invite-only event series, other added bonuses will include highlighting local talent and workshops for students of the craft led by songwriter Stacy Barthe and producer Bryan-Michael Cox. In addition, a special local Music Showcase curated by industry insiders will be paired with a special dinner and an A-list act performance.

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The biopic stars Queen Latfiah playing Bessie Smith, known for her breakout single "Downhearted Blues," and also for rising up to become one of the highest paid Black artists of the 1920s. Affectionately called the "Empress of the Blues," the Chattanooga, Tenn., native had a long history, with the biopic focusing on her evolution from upstart to household name. Other stars of the film include Mo'Nique, Mike Epps, Charles S. Dutton, Khandi Alexander, Tory Kittles and Tika Sumpter.

Bessie airs May 16 at 8 p.m. EDT on HBO. The Bessie's 81 Theatre Tour kicks off April 28 in New York City. 

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(Photo: HBO)

Written by Kathy Iandoli

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