Jasmine Guy, Avery Sharpe Trio bring Harlem Renaissance to life

Step into the world of the Harlem Renaissance through words, music, and imagery with “Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey,” a production featuring award-winning actress, singer, and dancer Jasmine Guy and the acclaimed Avery Sharpe Trio, on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Presented by the Moss Arts Center, the performance will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

In 1918, as World War I ended and thousands of African-American soldiers returned home, a mountain of artistic expression was ready to explode. The words and thoughts of Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, and others became the voice of a new generation. Inspired by the thoughts, songs, and images from this time, and specifically the classic 1923 Toomer novel, “Cane,” the performance weaves these voices into an experience that spans this era and provides a window on a critical point in history.

With a diverse career in television, theatre, and film, Guy spent years on Broadway before landing the role of Whitley Gilbert on “The Cosby Show” spinoff, “A Different World,” which earned her six consecutive NAACP Image Awards. Guy has also appeared in films and mini-series, including Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” Eddie Murphy’s “Harlem Nights,” Alex Hailey’s “Queen,” and Debbie Allen’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”

Currently, she can be seen as history professor Ella Grace in the new BET series, “The Quad,” and in her recurring role as Grams on the CW Network series, “Vampire Diaries.”

Sharpe is a renowned jazz bassist and composer who has worked with many jazz greats, from Dizzy Gillespie to Pat Metheny, and has led his own groups. All of Sharpe’s recordings feature his distinctive original compositions, which draw from the full range of his musical background. His latest recording, “Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman,” features collaborations with various artists, including Onaje Alan Gumbs, Yoron Israel, Craig Handy, Duane Eubanks, and Jeri Brown.

Sharpe teamed with classical cellist and writer Harry Clark to compose the music for “Raisin’ Cane” and will be joined onstage by percussionist Kevin Sharpe and jazz violinist Diane Monroe, who composed music to “The Self Evident Poem” from “Quilting the Black Eyed Pea” by Virginia Tech’s University Distinguished Professor of English Nikki Giovanni.

During their visit, Guy will lead an acting workshop for theatre art students in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts, while the Avery Sharpe Trio heads a jazz music workshop for students at Kipps Elementary School in Blacksburg. The artists will also perform an abridged version of “Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey” for students in grades five through 12 from Roanoke City and Montgomery, Pulaski, Giles, and Floyd counties.



Tickets for the performance are $20-45 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center’s box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.