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.
I encourage you to pick a show you aren’t familiar with and give it a listen this month!
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Musicals for Black History Month
Music: Thomas “Fats” Waller Lyrics: Various Concept: Murray Horwitz, Richard Maltby, Jr.
Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1978)
What It’s About: Fats Waller and the Harlem Renaissance
Music/Lyrics: The Legendary Motown Catalog Book: Dominique Morisseau
Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)
What It’s About: The life and times of the Temptations
Music: Jimmy McHugh Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
Musical Type: Jazz Age (1928)
Significance: Blackbirds of 1928 became the longest running all-Black cast show in 1928-1929.
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)
Music: Stephen Flaherty Lyrics/Book: Lynn Ahrens
Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)
What It’s About: Two women’s stories during the Antebellum South
Music/Lyrics: Micki Grant
Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1971)
What It’s About: Black experience throughout the 20th century
Music/Lyrics: Fela Kuti Book: Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis
Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2008)
What It’s About: The life and music of Fela Kuti
Music/Lyrics: Various Book: George C. Wolfe
Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)
What It’s About: Harlem from the 1920s through the present
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
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
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”
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
Music/Lyrics/Book: Tommy Butler
Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)
What It’s About: Martin Luther King, Jr./The Civil Rights Movement
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
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
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:
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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!
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.