Ali-Coleman, a 2012 recipient of the Top Forty Under 40 award in the Arts & Humanities by the Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund conceived of the production after listening to an interview from 1966 with the late Lena Horne. "Lena Horne's story is incredible and led me to understand that many entertainers and creatives in this country led double lives as social activists," Ali-Coleman says.
The 50-minute production showcases the voices and views of Lucille Clifton, Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham, Lena Horne, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Their monologues have been inspired or taken from their own words spoken in interviews and concerts and speak to their work as social activists.
Jazz singer and actress Colie Williams portrays Billie Holiday this season.When asked why she decided to work on the production, she said, "I have always been attracted to this piece because it highlights artists who used their art as a tool to speak out against injustice--artists who stand strong on their beliefs. I believe strongly in the power of ancestral energy, so I look to these ladies for wisdom. I have been inspired by them, and I have learned from them."
Williams' a trained theater actress who has performed at the Kennedy Center, Apollo Theater and other major stages across the country will star in this production of In Her Words while preparing for her upcoming debut at the world-famous Blues Alley stage on March 17.
The In Her Words production debuted in 2012 at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC with subsequent presentations that year including the United States Peace Corps headquarters, with the show livestreamed to Peace Corps locations around the world. In 2013, the tour of the production included stops within the Prince George’s Maryland Public Library System and Alexandria Virginia Public Library System.
This year, the production will return to Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia with tour stops to include the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and Northern Virginia Community College. The dates, times and locations will be uploaded on the production's website InHerWordsTour.com by Feb. 28. On March 1, a sneak peek of the performance will be featured at the event Natural Woman: A Collage of Female Creativity. Visit InHerWordsTour.com to learn more and purchase tickets.