"When Aretha Franklin sang “My Country Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, it wasn’t the Queen of Soul’s trademark voice that captured the rapt world’s attention. It was her choice of millinery. The now iconic grey felt hat with its front-and-center rhinestone-studded bow went from being a Capitol steps debutante to an international fashion diva in less time than it takes to post a Twitter tweet. Today it has its own Facebook page, an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian and a reserved final resting place in the Obama presidential library.
That the daughter of renowned minister C.L. Franklin should choose a chapeau of such imposing character comes as no surprise, says Wren T. Brown, founder of the Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) who, in a historic partnership with the Pasadena Playhouse, is co-producing the Los Angeles premiere of Regina Taylor’s Crowns, a musical that celebrates the African American church tradition of wearing hats, which opens May 8 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center before transferring to the Playhouse on July 10.
Directed by ERT Artistic Director Israel Hicks, with musical direction by Eric Reed, the LA production stars Paula Kelly, Suzzanne Douglas, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Ann Weldon, Sharon Catherine Blanks, Angela Wildflower Polk and Clinton Derricks-Carroll..."
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