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Local musicians underscore Billie Holiday music

Chris Oliver is the music director and pianist for The Prizery’s current production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.”

Oliver’s thoughts on working on the production follow:

 “Being able to work with The Prizery again is indeed an honor as well as a privilege. This production, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” is certainly one to appreciate both from a musical standpoint with its rich jazz references and also from the incredible story of one of the best and timeless jazz vocalists of all time, Ms. Bille ‘Lady Day’ Holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this period in time with this style of music as it makes me value the importance that jazz has placed within the world of music. The nuances, embellishments and improvisations are truly what make jazz music very unique and like none other style of music.  

“Galyana is an excellent pick for the role of Billie Holiday in this production. Working with her is a joy and something I looked forward to at every rehearsal. Her versatility and approach to this music is something that most couldn’t come close to delivering. She is a wonderful and talented person who will certainly go far in the arena of theater.”

Oliver is a graduate of Virginia State University with a B.S. in computer engineering.  

From the Bold Springs community in South Boston, Oliver grew up playing piano in his church and acquired a love of the voice.  Currently serving as music director at the Great Hope Baptist Church in Richmond, Oliver also has served at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Petersburg and the First Baptist Church in Waverly.

The Prizery is honored to have Oliver at the keys, said Prizery Artistic Director Chris Jones.

Another fine local musician who plays in the Billie Holiday combo is Robert Anderson.  Anderson is known to many in the community as a bluegrass player.  But his skill set also includes a bit of jazz.  

Patrons will find Robert performing on a vintage five-string upright bass from 1939.  The sound adds just the right feel to all the Billie Holiday selections.  

Anderson has played in many local bands and had his theatre pit orchestra many years ago during Halifax County Little Theatre’s first production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”   

“It is great to have Robert back on the theatre scene,” said Jones.  Anderson’s daughter, Rosie, also has been bitten by the theatre bug appearing last summer in “Oliver” and “Legally Blonde” with additional duties helping Ginny Bogart in the costume shop.

 “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” continues today at 3 p.m. with a half-price price matinee. Tickets are adults $12, seniors $11 and students $4.  Additional performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are available at the door or by calling the box-office at 434-572-8339.  Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $16 each.