This week at SPACE, Justin Levine is working on a musical about the woman regarded as the first African-American self-made millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker. She was also a philanthropist who donated money to the NAACP, the YMCA, and other institutions that aimed to help the black community.
About Justin Levine:
“Justin works as a writer, composer, actor and musician in New York City and around the country. His musical “Bonfire Night” was workshopped at New York Stage and Film this summer with director Alex Timbers and musical director Kim Grigsby. Justin was musical director as well as performer in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” a rock musical written by Alex Timbers (book) and Michael Friedman (music and lyrics). He is the co-creator of the downtown musical comedy duo Pepper and Sam. When not working on theater, he spends most of his time playing music, both solo and with the Clinton Curtis Band. He currently lives in Brooklyn.
About the Madam C.J. Walker project:
“Born in sharecropping Louisiana, just five years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Sarah Breedlove (later known as Madam C.J.) was the woman who started with less than nothing and came to be both America’s first woman and African-American self-made millionaire. She made her fortune by marketing hair products for black women. This idea quickly turned into an international business that provided employment and education to thousands of struggling African-Americans.
Justin is currently working with writer Kara Lee Corthron on a musical piece inspired by Madam C.J.’s life. It is both a celebration and an examination into the life of this powerful figure, as well as her loving, if not sorted, relationship with her daughter, A'Leilia. Levine and Corthron have received a commission from downtown theatre company Naked Angels, and they presented a workshop of the piece in the summer of ‘10.”