An interview with Jamecia Bennett

“I had no fear of standing up for someone who isn’t able now to do it for herself.”

In the Star Tribune review, Chris Hewitt writes, “anyone who has seen Jamecia Bennett, lead singer of Sounds’ of Blackness, in theatrical productions has probably had the sense that we’re only getting a part of her… Here, the gloves are off and Bennett delivers a musical performance of raw searing power.”

Park Square’s Lindsay Christensen got to ask Ms. Bennett a few more personal questions about what it was like to bring her own story and values to the production of Marie and Rosetta.

LC: What was your very first memory with music?

Jamecia Bennett

JB: My First memory of music was at 4 years old! My mother, Grammy Award winner Ann Nesby, would sit me at the piano and she would teach me harmony while she played and sang with me! I actually stood on a chair to sing and direct the church choir, as per the reference [in Marie and Rosetta] that Rosetta gives to her standing on a piano so people could see her!

LC: What did it mean to you to step into Sister Rosetta’s shoes?

JB: Stepping  into the shoes of Sister Rosetta meant a great deal. I knew that I was gonna have to be responsible to tell and sell her story in and hour and thirty minutes to people that may or may not have an idea of who she was! Learning her background and how she moved, who she had in her atmosphere, to me determined how I would deliver my lines. Straight to the point but knowing that she was raised by her mother so she had a nurturing side about her as well. But knowing first that I had to know the power of her music and what it meant to her.

LC: Did you have any fear or nerves?

JB: I didn’t have any fear… now I did have a pause in time when i saw how many lines in the show I had! LOL! But I had no fear of standing up for someone who isn’t able now to do it for herself.

Jamecia Bennett as Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

LC: What was the biggest challenge about bringing her to life?

JB: The biggest challenge of bringing her to life was rehashing all of the memories of my now passed on grandmother, Shirley Bennett, who spoke of her and Mahalia Jackson often. So some of the songs it’s hard to get through. But Rosetta is a straight shooter and to hear all of what she had to go through with the church, men, and just by being black and a woman in that time was kinda hard. So finding the right momentum of each song , the lines spoken and the playing of her guitar had to be consistent homework because it had to look real. If one of the three strong things mentioned was off, it would draw attention to it and take away from the message I was trying to present and the hardworking performer she was!

LC: If Rosetta was alive, what do you think her reaction would be to music today, especially given the negativity she faced toeing the line between secular and church music?

JB: I think she would be a force still. Nothing could stand in her way. I believe she would be respected much on the lines of Aretha Franklin. Which I may add, Aretha dealt with the same circumstances. Rosetta would be the Queen of Rock and Roll alive as she is now passed on.

Jamecia Bennett as Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Background: Rajané Katurah Brown. Photo by Terry Gydesen.

LC: Can you share an experience you’ve had of people coming together around – or being moved by –  the power of music or theatre?

JB: I’ve had plenty of experiences with people being moved with theatre and music especially with this show. To see the faces of people in the audience crying when they hear one of the songs in this show I sing, “Look Down The Line,” lets me know that love and loss doesn’t have a color. We all bleed the same color blood. I love to hear the harmony of laughter together at the monologues whether it be race sensitive or not. We get the opportunity to laugh and cry together.

LC: What is one thing, or a single word, you hope audiences take away after seeing Marie and Rosetta?

JB: Whether it’s suffering or celebration it’s all about Joy! 

Learn more about Jamecia Bennett at, and at Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @jameciabennett.

Rajané Katurah Brown and Jamecia Bennett. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

MARIE AND ROSETTA runs through December 30. Matinee added Sat, Dec 29 at 2:00 pm. Buy tickets here.

Lindsay Christensen Park Square’s Group Sales and Development Associate and a fierce freelance stage manager and graduate student pursuing a degree in Arts and Cultural Management at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. 


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