The Color Purple: Question and Answer

WABC-7 Celebrates Black History Month with The Color Purple
February 7, 2008 1:01:20 PM PST
Don't miss The Color Purple live on Broadway! Question: In the musical The Color Purple, Shug Avery sings at in the musical styles of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. A style that grew out of the work songs and field hollers of slaves. Do you know what musical style gave Shug Avery her freedom?

Answer: Shug Avery sings the Blues in the style of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. The Blues is a musical style that was influenced by the field hollers and work songs of slaves and African American sharecroppers who sang as they worked the fields. The evolution of the Blues began in the deep south and slowly migrated into the cities in the north.

The first recording of the Blues was in 1895 with George W. Johnson's recording of Laughing song, but it was in the 1920s that Blues entered into the forefront with Mamie Smth recorded Crazy Blues and It's Right Here for You. As the appetite for blues grew in the 1920s and 1930s, singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter and Ethel Waters became popular.

In The Color Purple, Shug Avery sings the Blues at Harpo's Juke Joint and guides Celie through a "blues conversion" by teaching her to stand up for her rights.

Don't miss The Color Purple on Broadway, now starring Grammy Award-Winning Legends, Chaka Khan and Bebe Winans. To purchase tickets go to to receive a special offer just for viewers!

The Color Purple is an inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who - through love - finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world. Set to a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, The Color Purple is a story of hope and a celebration of life.

Directed by Gary Griffin, The Color Purple is adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Grammy® Award winners Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray and choreography by Donald Byrd.