Sweet Potato Queens the Musical opens in Jackson

“I started to hear the music. I was so inspired by the originality of her wit.”

Sweet potato queens

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - When Jackson author, Jill Conner-Browne first started writing her books she never imagined that her beloved Sweet Potato Queens would become a musical. But thanks to one Grammy nominated artist that’s just what happened.

The cast performs opening act.
The cast performs opening act.

Wednesday night was the official opening of Sweet Potato Queens the musical and the fans were there to see it.

Jill Conner Browne always dreamed that her series would become a musical one day, but she said she never thought it would actually happen.

Conner-Browne speaks to media at opening night of her book series inspired, Sweet Potato Girls the Musical.
Conner-Browne speaks to media at opening night of her book series inspired, Sweet Potato Girls the Musical.

“It’s been a total GOD thing from start to finish and then Melissa out of the blue," she said.

After reading Conner Browne’s first book, Grammy award nominee, Melissa Manchester had an idea.

“I started to hear the music. I was so inspired by the originality of her wit,” she said.

Grammy nominated lyricist, Sharon Vaughn jumped on board soon after and the collaboration began.

Vaughn wrote to lyrics for the musical and Manchester was the composer.
Vaughn wrote to lyrics for the musical and Manchester was the composer.

“You write a 3 and half minute song for pop music but for theater you write a 3 and a half song for 18 different people," Vaughn said, "and no songs can sound like the other,” Manchester added.

But first they had to decide how to capture the essence of Conner-Browne’s stories.

“The characters, the other queens are representative of conversations you hear at any gathering of women,” Conner-Browne said.

Once they knew the characters they both got work.

“The thing about musical theater is the songs can’t exist without the story. That’s what makes the songs in musical theater so emotional because they are written for characters,” Manchester explained.

“You have to be loyal to the cadence and the vernacular of the characters. So, you really have to be married to each character,” Vaughn said.

According to Conner-Browne they succeeded.

“Dreams as dreams are completely worthless. It’s infinitely better to live your dream than it is to just dream them.” Conner

Sweet Potato Queens runs through March 24th at New Stage.

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