HBO To Launch ‘Bessie’s 81 Theatre Tour’ To Celebrate Film


HBO is honoring the legacy of blues legend, Bessie Smith, with its new film Bessie and the Bessie’s 81 Theatre tour.

The invite-only event series will touch down in New York and Los Angeles on April 28, offering attendees a musical showcase of local talents selected by the industry’s elite, plus a private dinner and a live performance by a surprise guest.

Students of music will also get the chance to chat with singer/songwriter, Stacy Barthe, and acclaimed Grammy-winning producer, Brian Michael Cox, in a private workshop to gain inside knowledge on how to further their careers in the industry. The tour features other influencers such as Deva Mahal, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Adeline Michele and Phony Ppl.

ALSO SEE: First Look: Queen Latifah To Star As Blues Icon Bessie Smith In 2015 HBO Film

“When thinking about how we wanted to build buzz about the film, we wanted to do something that was completely unique and immersive,” said Lucinda Martinez, SVP of Multicultural Marketing, in a press release. “We’re confident that this event series properly honors the legacy of Bessie Smith by showcasing aspiring songwriters and producers. We want to raise awareness for the film, create connections and offer these young creatives a platform to share their craft. And hopefully inspire, through Bessie, the next great artist.”

Smith was a classic blues phenom in the 1920s, becoming one of the highest paid black entertainers and taking home as much as $2,000 a week from performances of her own songs like “Nobody Knows you When You’re Down and Out,” “Empty Bed Blues,” and “Backwater Blues.” Bessie stars Queen Latifah as Smith, Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Tika Sumpter, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique.

Tune into HBO when the film airs on May 16 at 8pm.