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Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For

Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For

[Pittsburgh, PA] “Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For” is based on the life and music of the legendary jazz songwriter.

The musical explores Strayhorn’s struggles as a Black, queer man in middle America, as well as his artistic collaborations with Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.

Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn joined Ellington’s band in 1939, at the age of twenty-four. His compositions included “Chelsea Bridge,” “Day Dream,” “Johnny Come Lately,” and Ellington’s signature pieces, “Lotus Blossom” and “Take the A Train.”

Following Strayhorn’s death in 1967, Duke Ellington responded with what is deemed to be Ellington’s greatest recording: a collection consisting entirely of Billy’s compositions titled “And His Mother Called Him Bill”

With Strayhorn’s music, and a book by playwright Robert Zellers with Kent Gash, the musical will feature a live jazz band

The world premiere of “Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For” Sep. 19 – Oct. 8, 2023, at Pittsburgh Public Theater.


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