Valerie Coleman’s Portraits of Josephine
Part of: NYC Five Borough Tour
Journey through the life of Josephine Baker with Valerie Coleman’s Portraits of Josephine, a wind quintet dedicated to the iconic entertainer and her legacy. Playwright and actor Kirya Traber joins OSL for the performances, weaving her original narrative together with Coleman’s musical memoir.
Born in 1906, Baker began her journey as a performer at age on the vaudeville stages of St. Louis. From there, she headed to New York at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, and from New York to the cabaret halls of Paris, including the renowned Folies Bergère. Her presence as a singer and dancer captivated audiences, establishing her as a sensation and a cultural icon—the epitome of the Jazz Age to Parisians. She later naturalized as a French citizen, started a family, and largely remained in Europe for the rest of her life, as she vocally refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States.
Valerie Coleman, a distinguished composer and accomplished flutist, is the founder of the eminent wind quintet Imani Winds. Both Coleman and the ensemble have garnered recognition for their dedication to championing new compositions and diverse voices within the realm of classical music. In 2006, Imani Winds commemorated the centennial of Josephine Baker’s birth in 2006 with a multimedia tribute culminating in the recording of a soundtrack entitled “Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!” Coleman adapted this production into the wind quintet arrangement we will hear on this tour, a celebration of Baker’s origins, adventures, and impact on culture and social justice.
Portraits of Josephine