The one-day, two-show affair — produced, developed and directed by Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes — took place in front of a packed house on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at Atlanta Symphony Hall inside the Woodruff Arts Center.
Inspired by the powerful, emotional and necessary work of art, which Coates wrote in 2015 to his then-15-year-old son, Samori, the star-studded show featured a cast of celebrities and cultural influencers that included Clifford “T.I.” Harris; Michael “Killer Mike” Render; Lynn Whitfield; actor Omar Dorsey (“Queen Sugar”); Ledisi; Tony-nominated actress Michelle Wilson (Sweat); actress Pauletta Washington (Philadelphia, Antwone Fisher); artist, poet and TED Global Fellow Marc Bamuthi Joseph; and actor Greg Alverez Reid (Between the World and Me).
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appeared toward the end of the afternoon show, eventually reading a passage from the book once the thunderous ovation from the stunned audience faded back to silence.
During the performance, each of the cast members read content that was pulled directly from the book, while bassist Mimi Jones and drummer Nate Smith played soft tunes composed by MacArthur “Genius” Jason Moran.
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