Core Ensemble prepares musical following four influential women

“Ain’t I a Woman!,” a music theatre piece performed by the Core Ensemble, is scheduled 7 p.m. on Mar. 1 in the Wattenbarger Auditorium.The production celebrates the lives of four influential African American women: renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter, and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer.

“I have a poster of Sojourner Truth in my living room,” said Diana Lalani of the Women’s Center. “I have admired her ever since I read her daring Ain’t I a Woman speech delivered at an early Women’s Rights Convention in the 1800s. I admire her strength and her conviction and look forward to what will no doubt be an inspiring evening.”

The musical score varies from heartfelt spirituals and blues from the deep south, to urban vitality of the jazz age, and contemporary concert music of African Americans.

“The Core Ensemble grabs the attention of the audience from the first note and doesn’t let go,” said Karen Burdette, associate professor of Spanish.

The core Ensemble is composed of Tahirah Whittington on cello, Hugh Hinton on piano, and Michael Parola on percussion.

“It’s a musical performance, but it’s not a concert,” Burdette explained. “It’s a dramatic performance, but it’s not a play. It’s musical theater with dramatic movement and dance, but it’s not a musical.”

While there are several musicians performing, only one actress will portray all of the characters. Taylore Mahogany Scott has performed in film and television, including the nationally televised PBS show African American Lives with Oprah Winfrey.

The work is the latest in a series of multicultural and feminist performance pieces produced by the ensemble over the past ten years. The show tours throughout the U.S during Black History and Women’s History Month.

This is a Center Stage Event hosted by the Women’s Center in collaboration with Karen Burdette. There is no charge, and the performance is open to the public.