New musical Chisholm for President! to have staged concerts in London and Leeds

Chisholm for President

New soul and funk musical Chisholm for President! will have staged concerts in London and Leeds, its been announced.

Leeds Studio will present two live staged concert performances of songs from their brand-new soul and funk musical Chisholm for President! at The Southbank Centre on 12 April, London and Slung Low, Leeds on 13 April.

Chisholm for President! tells the inspiring story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress and to run for the nomination of the President of the United States.

Through live music and performance, the staged concerts will tell the powerful true story of a Black woman’s struggle against the political machine and her trailblazing run for the Democratic US presidential nomination in 1972.

Audiences can expect an uplifting night of songs influenced by the Soul, Funk, and Jazz of the late 60s/early 70s. The concert features singers and actors performing alongside a full live band including legendary musicians from the UK Soul and Funk scene whose credits include Jamiroquai, Amy Winehouse, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Omar, Post-Modern Jukebox and Mark Ronson to name but a few!

Chisholm for President!’s music and lyrics have been written by acclaimed writer & composer Testament whose work includes collaborations with Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae, Mercury Nominee Soweto Kinch and US jazz legend Joe Lovano, as well as being the writer of acclaimed plays Black Men Walking, (Royal Court) and Orpheus in the Record Shop (Opera North/BBC TV).

The Book comes from award winning playwright Zodwa Nyoni whose theatre work includes Darkest Part of The Night (Kiln Theatre) and Boi Boi is Dead (Leeds Playhouse), and TV credits include NETFLIX and short film The Ancestors (Official Selection Pan African Film Festival).

Leeds Studios’ artistic director Alex Chisholm who recently hit the headlines as the founder of the newly established Bradford Opera Festival, will direct the concerts.

The team’s aim is to secure support and collaborators to turn Shirley Chisholm’s story into a full-length musical and continue to spread her hope and optimism to all!

The cast will feature Rachel Modest (The Voice 2023 semi-finalist), Ryan David Harston, Dermot Daly, Lladel Bryant, Grant Anthony, Milly Blue (Basement Jaxx), and Justina Aina.

Writer and composer Testament said: “This is one of the most joyful shows I’ve ever worked on. Musically I wanted the sound and orchestration to be as authentic to the era as possible, like you are listening to a record live from 1968! The workshop sharings have left people dancing in the aisles!”

Playwright Zodwa Nyoni added: “Getting to work alongside Alex Chisholm and Testament on this project has been one of the most creatively and spiritually fruitful experiences. Shirley Chisholm left a great legacy as a Black woman in life and politics. Against the odds and doubters, she remained true to herself and her ethics. Her message stands the test of time.”

For more information and tickets, visit leedsstudio.org

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About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.