31+ Musicals Written By Black Artists – A Full List

In case you didn’t know, August is Black Business Month – a time to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses! And while creating a musical might not be the first thing you think of when you think of the word “business”, it is in a way, a very specific type of business! So here is a full list of musicals written by Black artists.

I encourage you to pick a show you aren’t familiar with and give it a listen this month!

* Musicals have been listed if at least one member of the writing team is a Black artist.


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1920s-1960s Musicals Written by Black Artists

Black Nativity

Music/Lyrics: Traditional  Book: Langston Hughes

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1961)

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Shuffle Along

Music: Eubie Blake  Lyrics: Noble Sissle  Book: F.E. Miller, Aubrey Lyles

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1921)

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St. Louis Woman

Music: Harold Arlen  Lyrics: Johnny Mercer  Book: Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen

Musical Type: Golden Age (1946)

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1970s-1990s Musicals By Black Artists

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Music: Fats Waller  Lyrics: Various  Book: Murray Horwitz, Richard Maltby Jr.

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1978)

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Black and Blue

Music: W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, Big Maybelle

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1985)

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Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

Music: Waters, Mark, Duquesnay  Lyrics: Gaines, Wolfe, Duquesnay  Book: Gaines

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1995)

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Bubbling Brown Sugar

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Loften Mitchell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1976)

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Don’t Play Us Cheap

Music/Lyrics/Book: Melvin Van Peebles

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1972)

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Five Guys Named Moe

Music/Lyrics: Louis Jordan  Book: Clarke Peters

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1990)

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It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Bevel, Gaithers, Myler, Taylor, Wheetman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1999)

Musical Info ➝


Jelly’s Last Jam

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

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Play On!

Music/Lyrics: Duke Ellington/Various  Book: Cheryl L. West

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

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Purlie

Music: Gary Geld  Lyrics/Book: Peter Udell  Book: Ossie Davis, Philip Rose

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1970)

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Sarafina!

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1987)

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The Capeman

Music/Lyrics: Paul Simon  Lyrics/Book: Derek Walcott

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)

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The Wiz

Music/Lyrics: Smalls, Graphenreed, Wheeler, Faison, Vandross, Walzer  Book: William Brown

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1974)

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Working

Music/Lyrics/Book: Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, M. Rodgers, Taylor, Birkenhead, Faso

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1977)

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Contemporary Musicals By Black Artists

A Strange Loop

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael R. Jackson

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

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Ain’t Too Proud

Music/Lyrics: The Temptations  Book: Dominique Morisseau

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)

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Bella: An American Tall Tale

Music/Lyrics/Book: Kirsten Childs

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

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Broadbend, Arkansas

Music/Lyrics: Ted Shen  Book: Ellen Fitzhugh, Harrison David Rivers

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

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Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

Music/Lyrics: Micki Grant

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1971)

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Fela!

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

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2008)

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Harlem Song

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary/Revue (2002)

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MJ: the Musical

Music/Lyrics: Michael Jackson, Various  Book: Lynn Nottage

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2022)

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Motown: The Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Berry Gordy

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2013)

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Passing Strange

Music/Lyrics/Book: Stew, Heidi Rodewald

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

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Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical

Music/Lyrics: Greg Borowsky, Douglas Lyons  Book: Melvin Tunstall III

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

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Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, Des McAnuff

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)

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The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

Music/Lyrics/Book: Kirsten Childs

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

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The Color Purple

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

Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)

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The Visitor

Music: Tom Kitt  Lyrics/Book: Brian Yorkey  Book: Kwame Kwei-Armah

Musical Type: Contemporary (2021)

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The Wild Party

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa  Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

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Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, Kees Prins

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2018)

Musical Info ➝


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Which of these musicals written by Black artists is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above musicals written by Black artists? 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 Written by Black Artists.
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 has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

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