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ArtsCentric musical has woman’s point of view

Stacy M. Brown | 7/11/2014, 6 a.m.

ArtsCentric’s new musical revue is banking heavily this summer on the premise that a woman’s point of view can’t be wrong, and with its production of, “Sincerely, Me,” it’s hardly any wonder why producers would be so convinced about the artistic prowess of the fairer sex.

“My primary perspective as an artist, an African American artist, in the 21st century, is that there was nothing like the African American female artists of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and the divas of the 1980s and 1990s,” said Cedric Lyles.

Lyles is ArtsCentric’s executive director and the music director for the new production, “Sincerely, Me,” which opens July 18 and runs through August 3 at the Hathaway Fine and Performing Arts Center in Owings Mills.

The shows will be held each Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. They will be directed by the Helen Hayes nominated actor and ArtsCentric’s artistic director Kevin McAllister.

“No one is paying tribute to these great artists who have given us so many great memories,” said Lyles, who has worked as music director on well-known productions including: “Rent,” “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “In the Heights,” “Dreamgirls,” and “The Full Monty.”

Fans will get to hear and experience the soul of Gladys Knight, the high octaves of Patti LaBelle, the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, The Ronettes, Dionne Warwick, The Weather Girls, Tracey Chapman, The Pointer Sisters, and many other great black artists.

In what promises to be an upbeat, captivating revue of music, “Sincerely, Me,” spans several genres and includes jazz, blues, gospel, pop and R&B.

Lyles and others say they plan to provide audiences an experience like no other.

Featuring musical arrangements that are sure to please, the songs and performances will not only celebrate the talents and greatness of African American women artists, but their place in the evolution of culture, as told by the women who experienced it, Lyles says.

Among the plethora of local talent involved in the revue are Andrea Albert, Kelli Blackwell, Crystal Freeman, Ashley Johnson, Shayla Lowe, and Brittney Wright.

Also, “Sincerely Me” will not only entertain audiences but also introduce them to lesser known female artists and groups, said Kevin McAllister, whose credits include the plays, “Our Town,” “Cinderella,” “Rent,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “The Full Monty.”

“Ultimately, this show aims to draw audiences into a world where every emotion and female experience is explored and expressed in a very tangible way,” McAllister said.

“From the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s to the R&B divas of the 1990s, this show has something for everyone, and is laced throughout with the testimonies of real women whose lives were narrated and touched by this music,” he said.

Lyles added that personnel at ArtsCentric, an organization that is designed to bring quality artistic works and creative services to the community at large, will also invite audience members to participate in the production.

“There will be video clips, introspective, and we will sit and talk about the women through song,” Lyles said. “There will be a segment about the girls who have gone too soon like Phyllis Hyman and Whitney Houston and on Minnie Riperton and those who were around during the civil rights movement.”

Lyles says that the show will be an experience that no one would want to miss.

“When you walk in, you’re going to want to see the room,” he said. “You’re going to wish you brought your sister, brother, cousin and your friend. It’s that exciting!”