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Director of Jazz Studies, Kris Johnson, will present his musical “Jim Crow’s Tears” at Rose Wagner on March 10.

By Marina Gomberg, associate director of communications and marketing, University of Utah College of Fine Arts

For one evening only, on March 10, 2017 at the Rose Wagner Center, audiences will get a glimpse into a tortured soul through the music and lyrics of University of Utah’s very own Director of Jazz Studies, Kris Johnson and his musical “Jim Crow’s Tears.”

The show, which is presented by Johnson and the GAM Foundation, depicts dark periods in the nation’s history – including dehumanizing slavery and the degradation of the Minstrel Shows – and pays tribute to those who endured those times and fought to implement change. It will take audiences on an emotional journey that transcends time. As writer Barbara Johnson said, “It will make you cry. It will make you angry. It will make you laugh. Mostly, it will make you think.”

While the story focuses on some African-American history, the underlying theme of the search for one’s own autonomy is remarkably poignant today and relevant to a broad range of communities and marginalized groups.

“This is not only a ‘black’ issue but is central to the human experience,” said Johnson, who is an award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer and educator. “Other cultures, nationalities, ethnicities and lifestyles have been marginalized and faced discrimination across the world. This piece is an expression of what it means to deliver one’s mind, body and spirit from the chains (literal or figurative) of oppression. My desire is for ‘Jim Crow’s Tears’ to provoke reflection, dialogue, healing and positive change.”

A socially impactful musical, it features a six-member cast, five piece horn section, nine piece chamber orchestra, five piece rhythm section and two percussionists. It includes a beautiful crafted script by Gary Anderson and thought provoking and emotional music and lyrics scored by Johnson. The original art is by Gil Ashby and the dynamic multimedia display is by David Deveau.

“Jim Crow’s Tear’s” will be performed live in the Jean Wagner Theatre at the Rose Wagner at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased for $25 for general audiences and $10 for students with ID.

For student tickets, please call 801-355-2787. Run time: 90 minutes plus a 10-minute intermission. Recommended for ages 8 and up. No babes in arms. All patrons must have a ticket regardless of age.

“Jim Crow’s Tears” was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Helen F. Whitaker Fund and Aaron Copland Fund for Music. The album can be ordered through various sites including Amazon, CD Baby and Apple iTunes and individual tracks through Sound Cloud.