Bliss Hall Show Celebrates African American Women

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “Ain’t I a Woman!” a chamber music theatrical performance celebrating four African American women, will be presented by the Core Ensemble 8 p.m. March 16, in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater at Youngstown State University.

“This is a compelling and important musical theater work that features a brilliant fusion of music, theater and history,” said Phyllis Paul, dean of the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communication.

Paul also noted that the performance is appropriate given that March is Women’s History Month.

The performance celebrates the life and times of renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter, and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer. The musical score is drawn from the spirituals and blues of the deep south, the urban vitality of the jazz age, and contemporary concert music by African Americans.

Actress Shayla Simmons portrays multiple characters in the performance. Simmons has appeared in theater shows including “The Color Purple,” “Dreamgirls,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and “The Wiz,” and in the national tour of “Winnie the Pooh.” She was a featured artist with the Golden Gospel Singers in a European tour to Germany, Spain and Switzerland and was the recipient of the NAACP Best Actress Regional Award and the Women of Power Certificate of Achievement in acting, singing, writing, producing and directing.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets must be secured by March 12, by calling the University Theatre Box Office at 330 941 3105 or at

Pictured: Actress Shayla Simmons.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.