Book, Music, and Lyrics by Ifa Bayeza


The world at war,  
A young love struggles to survive,  
And a new music is born! 

1917, Charleston, South Carolina: Lizzie MaeWinrow and Osceola Turner, a young song and dance  duo, dream of escaping the Jim Crow South to seek fame and fortune in New York. Amidst clashes of  families, color, class, and temperaments comes a World War that both tears the couple apart and  fuses their future. As action moves from the backstreets of the southern city to the trenches of  war-torn France, the intimate story of these two embattled hearts mirrors the transformation in music and dance that will usher in the “Jazz Age” – identified universally by that iconic quick step, “The Charleston!”

A fictional romance, grounded in historic fact, Charleston Olio portrays a little known chapter in  American history: the black experience of World War I – both the men who went to fight and the  women and families who stayed behind to face battles of their own. Real life figures such as music  impresario James Reese Europe, the Harlem Hell Fighters and the operatic wonder Sissieretta Jones,  are woven throughout and an original score ranging from ragtime to blues and from gospel to jazz  celebrates the wellspring of music and dance born from the souls of black folk. On the eve of the  Great War’s centennial, Charleston Olio is a unique theatrical experience that will  transport audiences through time into the heart of battle and into the hearts of two young lovers.  

Charleston Olio Celebrity Concert Reading, National Black Theatre Festival, August 2011: with Nambi E. Kelley, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Phylicia Rasahd and Joseph Anthony Byrd.

Ifa Bayeza’s new novel, SOME SING, SOME CRY, co-authored with her sister Ntozake Shange, debuts to rave reviews!

“Dazzling!” Essence 

“Lyrical and epic!” — Ebony 

“Keeps the reader turning page after page… engaging from start to finish. … hilarious and sexy, gorgeous and strong.” New York Times Book Review 

“Each character is magnetizing … Each setting, from Charleston to Harlem, is brilliantly realized … glorious in its scope, lyricism, and spectrum of yearnings, convictions, and triumphs.” Booklist 

“Every great jazz song is an epic tale of history and heartbreak, strife and triumph. Layering complex, sometimes dizzying melodies, jazz draws from a deep well of America’s painful past. So, too does Some Sing, Some Cry, as with a beautiful piece of free form jazz …” – USA Today 

“Think of it as Roots with a treble clef—a confident, lively account of love, art and what falls between.” – Kirkus 

“A magical, musical must-read!” Elle 

From page… to stage …

September 2010, Washington, DC: The National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institition, launches the national book tour of Some Sing, Some Cry by Ifa Bayeza and Ntozake Shange with a literary showcase at the Smithsonian  

 Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium – standing room only.  

 The performance begins Bayeza’s sojourn to adapt her reading into a full musical with support from the SonEdna Foundation. 

December 2010, Oxford, MS, SonEdna Foundation presents  A Celebrity Dramatic Reading of Charleston Olio featuring Emmy Award- winner Alfre Woodard, OBIE Award-winner Hattie Winston and Richard Lawson at the University of Mississippi, Oxford.  

Charleston Olio cast for the 22nd Annual National Black Theatre Festival Wandachristiine, Hattie Winston, Kene Holliday, Phylicia Rashad, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Nambi E. Kelley, Joseph Anthony Byrd & Jason Kraack. 

TONY Award-winner Phylicia Rashad headlines an ensemble including veteran television and  stage actor Kene Holliday from Matlock and Streamers; OBIE Award-winner Hattie Winston from  the long-running comedy Becker and B’way’s Tap Dance Kid; and featuring Gilbert Glenn Brown,  Nambi E. Kelley, Joseph Anthony Byrd and Jason Kraack

“Some Sing, Some Cry is a monumental work, on every level, that speaks to me personally. The sound of it, the feelings conveyed, and images conjured are astounding. So many colors and textures!!!! And so profound in its subtleties. Some Sing, Some Cry is, without question, one of the greatest literary works of the ages. Thank you for this treasure.” – Phylicia Rashad  

The World at War,  
A Young Love Struggles to Survive, 
And A New Music Is Born,  
Taking the world by storm!