Cross That River- A Black Cowboy Musical
90 minutes (15 minute intermission)
Join us for the evening performance of Cross That River, March 16, 2023 at 7PM at Spruce Peak Arts.
During these racially charged times in the United States with the focus on racial discrimination across the country, Cross That River takes audiences on a musical journey into why black lives matter. Cross That River represents a significant moment in American history where Black cowboys lived and helped settle the West. It is a story that’s never been told in this way.
The unsettled West of the 1860s provides a new life and new dreams for Blue, a run-away slave, who escapes from slavery to Texas to become one of America’s first Black Cowboys. This compelling tale of freedom integrates fiction with historical fact, and each song presents a different page in this complicated chapter of American History.
The story of Blue begins in Louisiana, and with every song of this highly infectious score, the audience is moved further along on Blue’s harrowing journey across the Sabine River to freedom in the Wild West. Each song tells a unique story, at times joyful, sometimes tragic, but mostly a poignant chronicle of enduring perseverance.
WASHINGTON POST “Although Allan Harris is best known as a jazz vocalist … he’s no stranger to Southern rock, R&B, blues, country and blue-grass. “Cross That River” is his most ambitious album yet, a country-before-it-was-cool song cycle inspired by the oft-overlooked history of the African American cowboy.”
Award-winning musician, Allan Harris wrote Cross That River to tell the untold story of the Black West and empower Americans with an inspiring
story of hope and freedom.
For Education Materials to review before you attend the show EMAIL Julianne, Director of Education at Jnickerson@sprucepeakarts.org.
About Allan Harris
ALLAN HARRIS is a jazz vocalist, producer, composer, guitarist, song-writer, actor, and educator. A natural entertainer, his dynamic stage presence has made him a main-stay in concert halls, theaters, jazz clubs and jazz festivals around the world. Tony Bennett has called him “my favorite singer.” He has been a guest performer with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, at Carnegie Hall, the Algonquin’s Oak Room, the Winter and Summer Olympics, a featured guest with Country Music Star Vince Gill and with Stevie Wonder. Ever since he burst on the jazz scene in the latter part of the twentieth century, The Brooklyn-born, Harlem-based vocalist/guitarist/bandleader/composer Allan Harris has reigned supreme as one of the most accomplished and exceptional singers of his generation.
Aptly described by the Miami Herald as an artist blessed with, “the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythmic sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat ‘King’ Cole,” the ample and aural evidence of Harris’ “protean talent” can be heard on his ten recordings as a leader; his far-flung and critically-acclaimed concerts around the world, and his numerous awards, which include the New York Nightlife Award for “Outstanding Jazz Vocalist” – which he won three times – the Backstage Bistro Award for “Ongoing Achievement in Jazz,” the Harlem Speaks “Jazz Museum of Harlem Award and the DownBeat Critic’s Poll “Rising Star Jazz Vocalist Award.” Memories of his early career playing guitar and singing with country rock bands inspired Allan to create his 2006 song-cycle Cross That River, a stunning portrait of the African American West. Cross That River recently finished a five-week run at 59E59 Theater in New York City to critical acclaim.
About Pat Harris
Artist manager, producer and agent Pat Harris, has been directing the careers of jazz artists since 1994 with a roster that includes pianist the award winning jazz vocalist Allan Harris; Russian saxophonist Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra; and has worked with the legendary jazz band the Cookers; renowned jazz pianist Eric Reed, and young piano/organ prodigy Matthew Whitaker. She runs an independent record label, Love Productions Records, for which she has co-produced ten Allan Harris recordings: The Songs of Strayhorn, Cross That
River, Cry of the Thunderbird, Long Live the King, A Nat King Cole Christmas, Open Up Your Mind, Convergence, Black Bar Jukebox, Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better and the Genius of Eddie Jefferson. For the past 176 years she has produced 2 Great Days of Jazz for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ annual conference in New York. She has also produced Jazz at Sotheby’s, Monday Night Jazz in Harlem, and the parlor jazz series and tour, Harlem After Dark.
Harris is a co-writer and producer of the Allan Harris musical Cross That River which made its critically acclaimed debut at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. She has guided Cross That River since its inception through workshops at the O’Neil Theater Center, the New York Musical Theater Festival, The ASCAP Musical Theater Festival, and the Theater Aspen Theater Festival and steered it through the Chamber Music America Residency Grant program where it was chosen to perform in 12 Harlem schools; the Kennedy Center Learning Through the Performing Arts Program; Mass MoCA; Joe’s Pub; The State Theater in Brunswick, NJ; B.B. Kings Blues Club showcase for APAP; the Blue Note-NY; and Rockwood Music Hall. Cross That River recently completed a five week run at 59E59 Theaters November 30 – December 31, 2017 and a three night run at the historic Faison Firehouse Theater in Harlem in January 2020.