Blues ring out at Belfry

Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story, stars Canadian jazz legend Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson in Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story can be seen at the Belfry Theatre until Aug. 19.

A new Blues musical, Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story, stars Canadian jazz legend Jackie Richardson backed by an all-star band including Juno nominee Bill Johnson, Ron Casat and Andy Graffiti.

Willie Mae Thornton began singing in her father’s Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and by the age of 14 she was touring with the Hot Harlem Revue.

In 1951, Thornton signed a recording contract with Peacock Records and subsequently recorded Hound Dog, the Leiber and Stoller-penned tune that was written for her and stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks. Three years later, the song would launch the career of Elvis Presley.

Like Big Mama, Richardson got her start singing in church. A multi-faceted performer, Richardson has won two Dora Awards (Toronto Theatre Awards) for Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Cookin’ at the Cookery; a Gemini Award for The Gospel According to the Blues and she’s been nominated for Junos, Jessies (Vancouver theatre awards), Betties (Calgary theatre awards) and, in the U.S, an NAACP Image Award.

The soulful revue pays homage to blues singer Thornton: the godmother of rock and roll. With a vocal style not easy to imitate, only a few – like Janis Joplin – have been able to summon Thornton’s mix of raw power and deep emotion.

The show runs until Sunday Aug. 19 in the Belfry Theatre Mainstage, 1291 Gladstone Ave. Tickets start at $25 and are available at 250-385-6815 or online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read