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CHESS

Lucid Life

19 Oct

Little Light Reviews– Itunes

Pure Dopeness
5 Star Rating
by Zeia’s Dad
This song is at the top of my playlist right now!

Simply Beautiful
5 Star Rating
by bionicboi
CHESS (aka Chester Gregory) is simply a musical genius with whatever he presents to the listener. This is certainly evident with his first album, In Search of High Love, released in 2008. CHESS has the ability to wrap his extremely talented gift in such a unique package leaving our ears simply amazed. With Little Light, he has done it again. This song, as with any of his recordings, makes my ears shiver with excitement as my soul lights up. CHESS has a little light, and he is gonna let it shine BRIGHT! Look out world, CHESS is making his move.

Positive Music that Matters
5 Star Rating
by willie singleton
Chess could’ve talked about anything pertaining to a little light.
He took a route that extended an invitation into to the listening experience.
There aren’t many lights in today’s music but
I think he’s one of the few.
Stupendous work! I Can’t wait for the album/EP!
Keep shining bright Chess!

Purchase “Little Light” on Itunes and Amazon:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/little-light-single/id915074438

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Light/dp/B00N7GHRXC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413688930&sr=8-2&keywords=little+light+chess

19 Oct

Behind the Scenes: The Eve of Jackie featuring A special celebration for the Westcoast troupe

There’s always a little something different about the parties and galas thrown by the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. There’s a palpable feeling of enthusiasm and energy in the room that starts when troupe members take the stage to celebrate the chance to perform and the people whose support has made it possible.

But even by those already high standards, the troupe achieved something even more exciting as it marked its 15th anniversary Monday night with a show and party at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The 1,700-seat hall was nearly full of supporters, friends and fans of the troupe, quite an achievement for a company that was, for many years, constantly on the verge of fading away.

There was something special about seeing that large, racially diverse audience whooping and hollering together.

And they had good reason to cheer.

The evening was built around the performance of Chester Gregory in his essentially one-person show “The Eve of Jackie,” about the late R&B singer Jackie Wilson. (More on that in a moment.)

But it was more than just a show. The evening was a salute to the persistence of founder Nate Jacobs, who has led the troupe since its founding in 1999 and kept it going despite many obstacles that might have stopped a less-determined person. And it was a salute to Christine Jennings, who retired last month after five years as executive director. Jacobs had a vision, but Jennings brought the financial sensibility to make it feasible. She reformed the board, eliminated the debt, acquired a theater space and then raised the money to pay off the mortgage.

It was also a chance for the audience to once again show appreciation for what Jacobs’ creation has done — give a talented group of performers a chance to shine, as they have done year after year. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe created a platform for young African-American artists who didn’t have one before.

And the community is richer for it. Their growth and development has been astonishing at times. And it was in strong evidence Monday night, as three troupe veterans, Tsadok Porter, Leon Pitts II and Jacobs’ daughter, Naarai, played backup singers to Gregory’s show.

You would have thought they had been working with him for weeks or months (not the day or so they actually had after his arrival on Sunday). The vocals were smooth and beautifully performed, quickly adjusting to the way Gregory might hold a note, or pause a song to insert a story.

I’ve seen Gregory on Broadway in “Tarzan” and “Cry-Baby” and the national tour of “Dreamgirls” that featured Sarasota’s Syesha Mercado. He played a dynamic James “Thunder” Early, a fictional variation of James Brown.

He is, to say the least, full of energy and charisma, a gift that he uses perfectly in “The Eve of Jackie.”

I’m not all that familiar with Jackie Wilson, who was billed as “Mr. Excitement.” I can’t comment on how well Gregory performs in the Wilson style. But you don’t need to know Wilson to recognize Gregory is delivering the kind of performance that touches your soul as it leads to constant eruptions of applause.

Michael Mendez, center, with Charles Manning and Nate Jacobs, performs at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 15th anniversary celebration. Oct. 6, 2014. Correspondent Photo/Elaine Litherland
Michael Mendez, center, with Charles Manning and Nate Jacobs, performs at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 15th anniversary celebration. Oct. 6, 2014. Correspondent Photo/Elaine Litherland

He’s emotional, soulful and energizing. He also provides some inspiration for a few troupe members who hope to pursue professional singing or theater careers.

At the after party, several troupe members said they were awed by the performance. Michael Mendez, one of the troupe’s more charismatic performers, said he was watching Gregory closely to see things he might use in his own career.

Gregory might be emulating or conveying the style of Jackie Wilson, but he’s also creating his own path as a performer, which is the only emulating any artist needs to do.

But inspiring people — on stage and in the audience — is what the troupe has been doing for 15 years. I’m hoping that will continue for decades more.

19 Oct

The Eve of Jackie: Review by The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) kicks off its 15th anniversary with the electrifying show, “The Eve of Jackie.” Award-winning Broadway singer Chester Gregory stars in this raw and jaw-dropping look at Jackie Wilson during his last complete performance in September 1975, one night before he collapses on stage. This show is a flashback to that concert, during which the great artist felt compelled to share details of his troubled life. Gregory masterfully performs many of the singer’s signature hits and expertly executes his awe-inspiring trademark dance moves. This show is high energy from start to finish! WBTT performers will appear as back-up singers during the performance.The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) kicks off its 15th anniversary with the electrifying show, “The Eve of Jackie.” Award-winning Broadway singer Chester Gregory stars in this raw and jaw-dropping look at Jackie Wilson during his last complete performance in September 1975, one night before he collapses on stage. This show is a flashback to that concert, during which the great artist felt compelled to share details of his troubled life. Gregory masterfully performs many of the singer’s signature hits and expertly executes his awe-inspiring trademark dance moves. This show is high energy from start to finish! WBTT performers will appear as back-up singers during the performance. If you’d like to help celebrate 15 incredible years of WBTT and support its mentoring programs for African-American youth and young adults, sponsorship packages are available. Call (941) 366-1505 for more information.
http://www.vanwezel.org/boxoffice/event.cfm?eveID=1476#.VEMX3rDF83k

15 May

Catch Chester Gregory in his final weeks in Sister Act.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
MAY 20 – MAY 25

TICKETS ON SALE APR. 21

Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102


MINNEAPOLIS, MN
MAY 27 – JUNE 1

TICKETS NOW ON SALE

Orpheum Theatre
805 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN


BALTIMORE, MD
JUN. 3 – JUN. 15

TICKETS NOW ON SALE

Hippodrome Theatre
12 North Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD 21201


SAN ANTONIO, TX
JUN. 24 -JUN. 29

TICKETS ON SALE APR. 4

Majestic Theatre
224 E. Houston Street
San Antonio, TX 78205

20 Apr

Chester Gregory channels ‘Mr. Excitement’ in Cabaret show

Review from: Examiner.comIf anyone ever decides to produce a biopic on the life of entertainer Jackie Wilson, they should consider Chester Gregory in the title role because he definitely has the goods to pull it off. Based on the audible response of the sold out audience present at his show “Eve of Jackie” Friday at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, he would be a shoe-in.

Chester took a break from touring in the Broadway show “Sister Act,” in which he plays Officer Eddie Souther, to appear for two nights at the Cabaret. In his show, he pays tribute to the legendary performer known as “Mr. Excitement,” who inspired the likes of Elvis Presley, Al Green and countless others. Jack Leroy “Jackie” Wilson, who recorded over 50 hits singles between 1957 and 1975 was considered one of the most influential singers and performers in R & B and rock n’ roll and important in the transition to soul music.

Gregory, a native of Gary, Ind., broke into professional theatre playing Jackie Wilson in the original production of “The Jackie Wilson Story.” He credits a 2003 performance in front of Michael Jackson, another entertainer inspired by Wilson, who gave him a standing ovation, and his Broadway debut a week later in “Hairspray,” as being major highlights of his career.

Wilson collapsed on stage from a heart attack during a concert in Cherry Hill, N.J. and later fell into a coma which lasted for nearly nine years until his death in 1984 when he was 49 years old.

Gregory performed in character as Wilson for the Cabaret audience as if it were present at the entertainer’s live show. Rather than merely impersonating Wilson, Gregory captured his essence instead. Possessing a vocal tone and range similar to Wilson’s, Gregory channeled his idol through a performance in which he replicated the singer’s falsetto, signature choreography, passion and inexhaustible energy.

Accompanying Gregory was his band consisting of Jason Anderson on piano, his music director Carol O’Neal on drums and Adrian Morris on bass. Also performing with him were backup singers Adrian Morris, Jamal Wyley and India Latimore.

Gregory’s set list for the ninety plus minute show without intermission included many of Wilson’s most familiar hits. Interspersed throughout was narration from Gregory as Wilson to the audience in which he detailed the singer’s thoughts and feelings regarding experiences from his tragedy-ridden life, such as the betrayal of his managers who he was taking to court to recovery money that he claimed they stole from him. What made “Eve of Jackie” so unique was Gregory’s ingenious script, which merged Wilson’s music with facts from his life—making for an ideal tribute and a terrific foundation for the aforementioned potential biopic screenplay.

Gregory often ventured out into the audience, again as Wilson, who loved flirting with women; Gregory charmed the females in the Cabaret audience, causing them to react as if the fabled entertainer himself was dancing with them. At one time he even brought some up onto the stage to dance with him and it was clear from their response to him that they had completely bought into the illusion he created that he was, indeed, Mr. Excitement in the flesh.

“I’m Coming on Back to You,” “The Way I Am” and “Think Twice” were some Wilson hits performed by Gregory. Some of Wilson’s strongest lyrics were powerfully interpreted in “No Pity (In the Naked City),” his commentary on the price of fame. Also striking was Gregory’s rendition of “To Be Loved,” a song that Wilson dedicated to those who had supported him during his quest to become clean and sober. Moving throughout the audience during “You Got Me Walking,” Gregory thoroughly engaged the audience in a manner that only master showman Wilson could. And by the time he sang “Lonely Teardrops,” one of Wilson’s biggest hits, he had the crowd in a frenzy.

Near the end of the show, Gregory broke character to thank the audience. By then he was covered in sweat but was not one iota less energetic than he was when he began. He closed the show with another of Wilson’s greatest hits, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Ultimately Gregory’s performance was not only a splendid homage to Wilson but it also revealed that he is a first-rate entertainer in his own right.

For tickets and information regarding the Cabaret at the Columbia Club 2014 winter/fall season, call (317) 275-1169 or visit www.thecabaret.org.