Musical Lists

17 Musicals for Black History Month To Give a Listen

Black History Month has arrived! This is the perfect chance to learn more about Black history and celebrate the achievements of Black artists. And what better way to do that than through musical theatre? Here’s a list of musicals for Black History Month that are definitely worth listening to. Consider picking a show you aren’t familiar with and giving it a listen this month!


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Musicals for Black History Month

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Music: Thomas “Fats” Waller  Lyrics: Various  ConceptMurray Horwitz, Richard Maltby, Jr.

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1978)

What It’s About: Fats Waller and the Harlem Renaissance


Ain’t Too Proud

Music/Lyrics: The Legendary Motown Catalog  Book: Dominique Morisseau

Musical Type: Contemporary (2017)

What It’s About: The life and times of the Temptations


Blackbirds of 1928

Music: Jimmy McHugh  Lyrics: Dorothy Fields

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1928)

Significance: Blackbirds of 1928 became the longest running all-Black cast show in 1929.


Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

Music/Lyrics/Book: Daryl Waters, Ann Duquesnay, Zane Mark, George C. Wolfe, Reg E. Gaines

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1995)

What It’s About: Black history (told through music and tap)


Dessa Rose

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics/Book: Lynn Ahrens

Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)

What It’s About: Two women’s stories during the Antebellum South


Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

Music/Lyrics: Micki Grant

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1971)

What It’s About: Black experience throughout the 20th century


Fela!

Music/Lyrics: Fela Kuti  Book: Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis

Musical Type: Contemporary (2008)

What It’s About: The life and music of Fela Kuti


Harlem Song

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)

What It’s About: Harlem from the 1920s through the present


It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues

Music: Various  Book: Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Ron Taylor, Dan Wheetman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1999)

What It’s About: The history of blues music


Jelly’s Last Jam

Music: Jelly Roll Morton, Luther Henderson  Lyrics: Susan Birkenhead  Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

What It’s About: The life and music of Jelly Roll Morton


King Kong

Music/Lyrics: Todd Matshikiza  Lyrics: Pat Williams  Book: Harry Bloom

Musical Type: Golden Age (1959)

What It’s About: The life of boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, aka “King Kong”


Ragtime

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens  Book: Terrence McNally

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

What It’s About: Race relations in early 20th century America


Sarafina!

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mbongeni Ngema  Music/Lyrics: Hugh Masekela

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1987)

What It’s About: The Soweto Uprising in South Africa


Selma

Music/Lyrics/Book: Tommy Butler

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)

What It’s About: Martin Luther King, Jr./The Civil Rights Movement


Shuffle Along

Music/Lyrics: Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle  Book: F.E. Miller, Aubrey Lyles, George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1921)

What It’s About: Fictional comedy about competing mayors

Shuffle Along is a historically significant Broadway musical that helped inspire the Harlem Renaissance


The Color Purple

Music/Lyrics: Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray  Book: Marsha Norman

Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)

What It’s About: A woman’s experience living in the rural American South during the 20th century


The Scottsboro Boys

Music/Lyrics: John Kander, Fred Ebb  Book: David Thompson

Musical Type: Contemporary (2010)

What It’s About: The true and tragic story of the Scottsboro Boys


Other blog posts you might like:

Popular Musicals

• Musicals Based on Books

• Musicals Based on Movies

• Musicals Based on True Stories

Musicals Written by Black Artists


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Which of these musicals for Black History Month is your favorite?

Or have you ever seen any of the above musicals for Black History Month live? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!


Stacy Karyn, Author of Musicals for Black History Month.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She holds a BA in theatre, a TESOL drama certificate, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

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