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‘Women of Soul’ returns to the Halloran in celebration of Black Music Month

Joy Truly Brown, Orpheum’s director of Rentals & Events, and creator of the “Women of Soul” Series, wanted to run a hotel.

She just knew her degree in Hospitality Management would prepare her to do so.

What she didn’t know is, nearly 20-plus years later, after climbing the ranks, she would give birth to the “Women of Soul” concert series at Downtown’s Orpheum Theatre. 

This year’s concert, the third of its kind, will take place Sunday, June 11, 7:30 pm at the Halloran  Centre For Performing Arts & Education, next door to the Orpheum.

The event will feature Zsa (pronounced Zah) Davis, Keia Johnson, Adajyo and Katrina Anderson – just in time for Black Music Month in June. 

“I started as a hairstylist, worked in the box office, and even ran concessions,” Brown recalls, each milestone preparing her for current role. 

“I always loved the beauty and excitement of being backstage and event planning, commercials, movies, music videos…And when the pandemic hit, I got to work,” said Brown.

“The Women of Soul series was born in the fall of 2020 for two purposes – to bolster programming (translation: income) that was nil, as shows began to cancel because of COVID-19 and to give back and showcase the wonderful talent we already have right here in Memphis. 

“I wanted to offer local artists, specifically women of color, an opportunity to showcase their musical talent on the Orpheum stage,” said Brown.

One such artist is Keia Johnson, a former contestant on Seasons nine and10 of “American Idol,” who is not only an artist, but the owner of KJ Management, co-curator of this year’s concert. 

“I attended the first show, and it was magical,” said Johnson.

“There was something so special about seeing these women, considered “local artists,” on this big, amazing stage, and the audience dancing…That’s what we want to recreate for this year’s show.”

KJ Management is an entertainment agency, specializing in event production, among other creative offerings. 

“Keia and I really connected during the production of the second show, and I knew I needed her artistic energy on and off stage for this year’s show,” said Brown.

Johnson added, “I love to create experiences. Women of Soul will feature a house band, led by Deveraux Williams, with background singers, rhythm section, horns, dancers, lighting – I want people to remember how they felt when they were here.” 

Johnson continued, “… I wanted to give extremely talented women an opportunity to be on a stage they might not have been on before, and to honor Black Music Month with these SOULful artists who ALL have original music.”

Johnson provided a quick snippet on each artist:

“Zsa Davis is a newer singer to Memphis but soulful and brings a fresh sound. 

“Adajyo is a female group, which we don’t see all the time. Their harmonies are so intricate. They sing background a lot, but this is their chance to take center-stage.

“Katrina Anderson is not new to the city but does a lot of corporate and private shows. You might know her as previously part of BB King’s Allstars and the legendary Barkays.”

Artists featured in the first show in 2020 were Karen Brown and D. Monet, and the second in 2021 featured Rollyne’ Anderson, Tonya Dyson, and Keia Johnson. 

Among other artists considered were Wendy Moten, Stefanie Bolton, and Talibah Safiyah, all of whom were unable to participate due to unforeseen circumstances (like “The Voice”). 

The co-curators hope that Memphians walk away with a new appreciation for Memphis music. 

“Memphis is recognized as a music city all over the world, but many local artists don’t feel the local embrace,” said Johnson. 

“We hope people leave having seen and heard the professionalism we all possess. We want them to leave lighter, kinder, feeling love and loved, and proud …”

(Tickets are $49, plus fees and are available at orpheum-memphis.comTicketmaster.com or by calling the Orpheum box office (901-525-3000). For more information, visit orpheum-memphis.com.)


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