If you’re familiar with the legendary folk-blues singer Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter and how his life was intertwined with that of father and son song-collectors John and Alan Lomax, then you have a pretty good idea of what “Black Pearl Sings” is all about.
Playwright Frank Higgins switches genders, however, and in his two-character play, Irish-American Library of Congress song collector Susannah Mullahy (Jessica Wortham) “discovers” the powerful voice and rich musical tradition of African-American Alberta “Pearl” Johnson (Jannie Jones), who is imprisoned in Texas for murder.
It’s a play about their journey together, the tension and unexpected friendship that arises from two women of very different backgrounds. They laugh. They cry. They dance. They fight. And, of course, they sing.
They form a bond through their mutual love of music.