Producers Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith and Ruth & Stephen Hendel have announced that Grammy Award-winning recording artist and former member of Destiny's Child Michelle Williams will join the national tour of the hit Award-winning Broadway musical Fela! when it opens at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, DC on January 29. Fela! received three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography.
"I am thrilled to join the cast of Fela!," said Michelle Williams. "This musical journey is one that I've wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008. The sounds, the passion and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart. I am simply honored."
A triumphant and inspirational tale of courage, passion and love, Fela! is the true story of Kuti, who created a type of music, Afrobeat, and mixed these pounding eclectic rhythms (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies) with rousing lyrics that openly attacked the corrupt and oppressive military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria and much of Africa. Featuring many of Fela Kuti's most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones's visionary staging, the global phenomenon that is Fela! reveals Kuti's controversial life as an artist and political activist, while at the same time celebrating his pioneering music and committment to the cause of universal human dignity. "More than a musical, an ecstatic phenemenon" (David Cote, Time Out New York), Fela! "Is a spectacularly inspiring hybrid: theater, music, dance, biography, history lesson, political rally, and religious experience. Sublime" (Joyce Kulhawik).
Fela! is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, it was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel.
A multi-award winning international singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress, Michelle Williams is best known as a member of the record-breaking R&B and Pop sensation, Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling female groups of all time. Born and raised in the small Chicago suburb of Rockford, Illinois, Michelle always dreamed of a life on stage. Fiercely guided by her faith and raised with a strong family core, Michelle was certain that one day she'd be a superstar. During her teenage years, she directed church and community choirs; a platform that not only served to develop her distinct voice but also her independence and dexterity as an artist. Throughout her career in Destiny's Child, Michelle explored solo terrain by releasing two gospel recordings: the award-winning "Heart To Yours" (2002), which featured a collaboration with the legendary Shirley Caesar, and "Do You Know" (2004). At the end of 2008, Michelle joined forces with producer Rico Love and created a fresh and innovative sound on her dance/pop album, "Unexpected." The first single released from the album, "We Break the Dawn," quickly became a huge club hit, topping the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts. For fans of her subtle and smooth work in Destiny's Child, as well as her soul-stirring spiritual solo work, this was a brand-new Michelle Williams.
In between recordings and concert tours, Michelle has conquered yet another challenging mountain as an actress. First, she took the reigns of Broadway's Aida in 2003 to critical acclaim and audience raves. Then, in 2006, she took to the television screen for a hotly touted, ground-breaking multi-episode run in the popular UPN sitcom "Half & Half," where she played the role of Naomi, a record company executive who is HIV-positive. Later that year, she was featured on FOX's successful "Celebrity Duets" series.
In 2007, Michelle took on her greatest acting challenge when she joined the cast of the Broadway smash, The Color Purple for its national tour. She dazzled in the role of Shug Avery. In 2009, Michelle joined the London West End production of Chicago where she made history as being the first African American woman to play the lead role of Roxie Hart. She reprised her role in February 2010 on Broadway for a limited engagement. In 2011, Michelle starred in the acclaimed touring stage play What My Husband Doesn't Know which is now showing on BET.