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‘I Am Ella’ Coming To Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center

NEWPORT NEWS—Experience the life of Newport News native Ella Fitzgerald through song as the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center opens its 2021-2022 season. Female vocalists from across Hampton Roads will lead a musical journey through Ella’s most memorable performances in a live production of “I am Ella Concert (Fifth Anniversary)” on Friday, September 10 from 8 to 10pm.

The show, produced by Kensie Butler, was first brought to the center’s Ella Fitzgerald stage in 2016, receiving rave reviews. Local vocalists, including Nakia Madry-Smith, Michon David, Titus Dudley, Ahisa Henry-Johnson, and other talent from across Southeastern Virginia will perform. There will also be a special guest appearance by Brittany Wright.

Meanwhile, Reader’s Theater will present “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” on Monday, September 13 from 7 to 8pm. Moving fluidly between past and present, this bold new play from Kimber Lee tells the story of Tray, a spirited African-American 18-year-old and his family, who must hold on to hope when Tray’s life is cut short.

“An Evening with Avery*Sunshine,” which was originally scheduled for March 15, has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 9 from 8 to 10pm. Jazz and R&B Billboard-topping songstress Avery*Sunshine has captivated worldwide audiences with her riveting stage performances, candid and often humorous banter, and optimistic anthems about life. Self-described as “a cross between Bette Midler and Oprah Winfrey,” her distinct sound and far-reaching presence have graced some of the world’s greatest venues, including Madison Square Garden and Smokey Robinson’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tribute.

Tickets for all three shows can be purchased online. The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is located at 2410 Wickham Avenue. For additional information, visit, or call l757-247-8950.

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