The Billie Holiday Project

Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.  9:00 p.m. Mistlin Gallery 1015 J Street Modesto, CA, 95354

Doors open at 6:00 PM…$40 per person…wine & dessert will be served.
he Billie Holiday Project, led by Stella Heath, celebrates the music of Lady Day! Shrouded in mystery, as she was draped in furs, Billie was quintessentially multi-faceted, possessing the sensitivity and ability to make the songs she sang as personal as if she was singing them softly in your own very ear.

Featuring some of the Bay Area’s finest Jazz musicians, The Billie Holiday Project evokes the electric and intimate feeling of experiencing Lady Day live in a 1930s Jazz Club. Drawing from some of Billie’s most recorded tunes, such as Blue Moon, Billie’s Blues, God Bless the Child, and Strange Fruit, to name but a few. The band also re­vives some of the earlier and lesser-known tunes that Billie interpreted. In perfor­mance, interspersed with the music are stories of Billie’s life and musical artistry.

Tickets $40 (Includes wine and desserts) available at

A presentation of the Grace Lieberman Cabaret Series Promotion by Greg Savage
Sponsored by Randy and Sandy Clark


CVV News l May 13, 2023

Crowns, by playwright Regina Taylor, adapted from the book Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, is a musical testament to faith, hope, courage and love as seen through the eyes of six African American women. “Probably one of the most joyous pieces of theater you will ever see,” said Centerstage Chicago. “Hats Off to Crowns” praised the New York Times. A local production of this beautiful, gospel filled musical will be performed in Merced on Saturday, June 17, 2023, at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 18, 2023, at 3:00 p.m., at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center located at 645 W. Main Street, Merced.

Playwright Regina Taylor, best known as an actress, was the first Black woman to play Juliet on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet. Her playwriting credits include Oo-Bla-Dee, Drowning Crow, A Night in Tunisia and the critically acclaimed adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

The story of Crowns is that of a young African American girl trying to figure out her identity, her place in the world and her place in her own culture. Yolanda, a tough gang member, is sent to the South to live with her grandmother following the murder of her brother. We meet a wonderful community of Black women who take Yolanda under their wing and weave their stories of humor, love, and loss around her like a blanket of tenderness and redemption.

An actor and musician with a huge list of credits, Dennis Brown is the Musical Director. He is currently the Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Patrick’s Church in Merced. Actress and songstress, Michelle A. Allison, is the Artistic Director. Mr. Brown and Ms. Allison have had the pleasure of working together on a multitude of projects and welcome the opportunity of bringing the joy of Crowns to Merced.

The cast includes Mother Shaw, played by Loretta Spence, who has portrayed the role in productions in both Merced and Sonora and Rene L. Christian who played Wanda in the Sonora production. Cheryl Mitchell Welch shares her talents through the portrayal of Velma and newcomer, Ariana Carbajal, plays the young teenager Yolanda. We welcome back to the stage the unforgettable Dr. Ericka L. Peterson who plays Jeanette, along with the Man for every scene Ed Lacey.

So, if you are looking for a little drama, comedy and great gospel music, come join us and bring a little “hattitude” of your own.

‘The Sound of Music’ Is a Family Affair at Merced College

CVV News l March 2023

The Merced College Theater Department proudly presents a family-friendly production of The Sound of Music, opening Friday, March 24, with performances scheduled throughout the weekend and into next week.

Originally scheduled for March 2020, The Sound of Music was canceled due to the pandemic. Many of the original cast and crew members have returned, and excitement is high for what is sure to be a rousing rendition of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Purchase tickets at

The Sound of Music is directed by theater Professor Lauren McCue-Bryx, with musical direction from music Professor Alexander Simon, scenic and lighting design by Theater Production Lead Chad Phillips, and costumes by Christine Silveira.

“To collaborate with such a talented group of professionals and students on this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic has been a wonderful, indelible experience,” said McCue-Bryx, who also directed recent Merced College hits like The Great Gatsby and The Last Masquerade, an interactive haunted house. “With moving vocals and acting, exquisite costumes, a superb set, gorgeous lighting, and a live orchestra adeptly conducted by Alexander Simon, this production is not to be missed.”

Merced College is opening its theater doors for the first time to over 1,200 seventh-graders from the Merced City School District. Coordinated by John Albano, Dean of the Fine and Performing Arts and Social Sciences, and Renée Dekker, Area Administrative Coordinator for the Arts, performances will be held for Cruickshank Middle School, Le Grand Union, Hoover Middle School, Rivera Middle School, El Nido District, and Tenaya Middle School.

Adding to the family feel of the show, the production features family ties throughout its cast and crew.

•      Captain Georg von Trapp is played by UC Merced Professor of Economics, Justin Hicks, whose two children are playing von Trapp’s children in the show. Gabriela Hicks plays Brigitta von Trapp and Michael Hicks plays Kurt von Trapp.

•      Mother Abbess is played by Jenni Samuelson, a lecturer in music in the Global Arts Studies program at UC Merced who is also an award-winning soprano. Samuelson’s daughter, Abby Samuelson, plays the role of Louisa von Trapp.

•      The role of Maria is played by Rachel Pearre, a professional actor who has played lead roles at Playhouse Merced, Prospect Theater Project, Merced Theatre and other prominent theaters in the central valley.

•      Meg Camarda plays the role of Sister Berthe, and her daughter, Shannon, plays the role of Gretl von Trapp.

•      Pamela Quevedo is playing a nun and Frau Zeller, and her daughter, Zairah Quevedo, plays Baroness Elberfeld and is part of the ensemble.

•      Madison Mitchell (as Liesl), Jeffry Jackson (Rolf), Jordan Ellis (Max), Colton Dennis (Admiral von Schreiber), and David Hambley (Franz) are well-known performers and educators who have worked with Playhouse Merced, the MAC, Stockton Civic Theatre, Prospect Theater Project, Merced ShakespeareFest, the Gallo Center for the Arts, and others.

•      Danielle Pasos, who plays the lead role of Elsa Schrader, is a recent graduate of Merced College, and this will be her last show at the school. She played Marisela in Just Like Us and Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby at Merced College.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, or $15 for student, senior and military admission, and can be purchased at

Performances are scheduled as follows:

•      Friday, March 24 – 7:30 p.m.

•      Saturday, March 25 – 7:30 p.m.

•      Sunday, March 26 – 2 p.m.

•      Friday, March 31 – 7:30 p.m.

•      Saturday, April 1 – 7:30 p.m.

•      Sunday, April 2 – 2 p.m.

Contact the Merced College Box Office at 209-384-6284, contact the Fine & Performing Arts Department at 209-386-6644, or visit us on Facebook at<;.

SOURCEMerced College
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Felicia Roberts took an idea gathered a few people to reached into a minority community to highlight the positive, using a minority newspaper the Central Valley Voice. Roberts was joined by her sisters Carolyn Williams, Alleashia Thomas, niece Hermonie Lynn Williams, nephew Ron Williams, cousin Jerald Lester, Jay Slaffey, Greg Savage, Tim Daniels and the late J Denise Fontaine. Each individual played an important role in the birth of the newspapers. Since, then many have stood strong behind the success of the newspapers and its goal to fill a void in the Central Valley community The Central Valley Voice published their 1st issue in November 1991. Its purposed was to highlight the achievements of minorities in the Central Valley. The Voice focuses on the accomplishments of African Americans and Hispanics giving young people role models while diminishing the stereotypical pictures of gangs, crime and violence that permeate the minority communities. Since 1991, the Central Valley Voice has provided an important voice for the minority community throughout the Madera, Merced. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

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