Written by: Sydnei Young
Black Nativity is a soul stirring Christmas Story filled with thrilling notes and voices and glorious gospel music. This musical is expressed in an African American perspective. It was first written in 1961 by the famous poet Langston Hughes. It’s a celebration that tells the original story of the Nativity in scripture, verse, music and dance. It is based on the Gospel of St. Luke, combined with the poetry of Langston Hughes. James Mercer Langston Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of Black life in America. Although this play is adapted often, this musical will take the audience from a traditional Black church to an Africanized Jerusalem through dance, powerful spirituals and anthems, and gospel. This musical portrays a Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s journey through life finally ending with the birth of Christ.
Some genre’s of music represented in this musical are gospel, negro spiritual, rhythm and blues, and soul. The instruments used during the Black Nativity are as follows: guitar, piano, guitar, drums, bass guitar, vocals, tambourine, and the organ.
For the 2013 adaptation of Black Nativity, the cast areas follows: Forest Whitaker (Rev. Cornell Cobbs, Angela Basset (Aretha Cobbs), Tyrese Gibson (Tyson/Lot), Jennifer Hudson (Naima Cobbs), Mary . Blidge (Angel), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Pawnbroker), Nasir Jones (Isaiah), Jacob Latimore ( Langston), Rotimi (Officer Butch McDaniels), Luke James (Joseph), Grace Gibson (Mary).
Black Nativity is a urban Gospel with spirit and soul. This was a very well told story based on the widely performed Langston Hughes play, Black Nativity. Jennifer Hudson has an impressive voice that is grounded in the gospel style. Hudson has the ability to hold notes for extended periods of time, without issue or strain, and is even able to do so in the upper extremes of her belting range. The music, acting and story captured me in a way I wouldn’t have expected. I loved Jennifer Hudson’s singing and Jacob Latimore’s acting.