Sistas: The Musical had my head bouncing, my toes tapping and my off key voice singing (to myself, of course). This off Broadway production is a hidden jewel and a musical delight.

Back in September, I started compiling my list of things to do for my Curator’s Short List for the rest of the year. This is where I identify a list of restaurants where I want to eat, shopping venues I want to patronize and plays I want to see. Sistas: The Musical made the top of my list. I am glad that I finally got a chance to see it!

Sistas is the musical journey of five women who come together to commemorate the loss of the matriarch of their family, their recently departed Grandmother / Great Grandmother Alice. The play weaves together the lives of three Black sisters, one Black teenaged daughter and one Caucasian sister-in-law, as they share both cherished and difficult moments from their Grandmother’s life and their pasts. The cast of characters includes: Simone, the eldest sister and single parent raising a teenage daughter;  Tamika, the teenager who is more interested in her boyfriend than family history; Gloria, the god fearing sister who recites bible verses to cope with her siblings and life; Roberta, the revolution loving sister who is funny and full of life but hiding a painful secret; and Heather, the sister-in-law, who holds her own as she inserts herself into family business. Sistas meshes generational issues, racial politics and the personality differences among these women with an interesting play list of music.

What differentiates this production is the musical selection and the way it transports you along with these women through the decades as they reminisce about their Grandmother’s life and share their own experiences. Taken from the study guide on the Sistas website (, the production “uses popular music sung by African-American women from 1919 through the present time, in order to show social change for Black women and society in general. The music’s trajectory is revealed to go from “Naming the Pain” (A Good Man is Hard to Find) to “Framing the Problem”(I am Not My Hair), to “Proclaiming the Joy” (Just Fine and Golden). This parallels the story of African-American women and their emerging sense of empowerment.”

Here are the artists and songs featured in Sistas: The Musical:

Year recorded song was released or hit charts
Name of song
First recorded performer
Top place on charts
TraditionalOh Happy DayTraditional
TraditionalAin’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (ensemble)Traditional
1919A Good Man is Hard to Find (Eddie Green) RobertaEddie GreenBessie Smith#9
1922My ManCharles / Pollack / Willemetz / YvainFanny Brice (Billie Holiday in 1938)#9
1922‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business (sung by Billie Holiday)Robbins / GraingerBessie Smith#40
1931That’s Why Darkies Were Born (Kate Smith) recordLew Brown / Ray HendersonKate Smith#12
1933Stormy Weather (Lena Horne) AimonwTed Koehler / Harold ArlenEthel Waters (later Lena Horne)#1
1939Strange FruitLewis AllenBillie HolidayN/A
1941God Bless the ChildBillie Holiday, Arthur Herzog, Jr.Billie HolidayN/A
1956Precious LordDorsey / AllenMahalia JacksonN/A
1964ImagesWilliam Warey Cuny & Nina SimoneNina SimoneN/A
1964Shoop Shoop SongRudy ClarkBetty Wright#6
1965Baby I’m YoursVan McCoyBarbara Lewis#11
1965Stop! In the Name of LoveDozier / Holland / HollandThe Supremes#1
1966Keep Me Hangin’ On – EnsembleHolland / Lamont / Dozier / HollandThe Supremes#1
1966Sweet Talkin’ Guy (Chiffons) Roberta, othersDoug Morris / Eliot Greensberg / Barbara J. BaerThe Chiffons#10
1966Nowhere to RunDozier / Holland / DozierMartha & the Vandellas#8
1967Say a Little PrayerBacharach / DavidDionne Warwick#4
1967R.E.S.P.E.C.T.Otis ReddingAretha Franklin#1
1968Society’s Child (Janis Ian) HeatherJanis IanJanis Ian#14
1969I’m Gonna Make You Love MeGamble / Huff / RossThe Supremes#2
1979I Will SurviveFekaris / PerrenGloria Gaynor#1
1979Hot Stuff TamikaPete Bellotte, Keith Forsey, & Harold FaltermeierDonna Summer#1
1979We Are FamilyBernard Edwards / Nile RodgersSister Sledge#2
1987Let’s Wait a WhileAndrews / Harris / Jackson /LewisJanet Jackson#2
1988ControlHarris / Lewis / JacksonJanet Jackson#5
1993I Have NothingFoster / Thompson JennerWhitney Houston#4
1995You Gotta BeDes’ree Weekes / Ashley IngramDes’ree#5
1997TyroneHurt / WrightEryka BaduN/A
2001A Woman’s WorthAlicia J. Augello-Cook / Erika RoseAlicia Keyes#3
2002BeautifulLinda PerryChristina Aguilera#3
2003MilkshakeThe NeptunesKellis#3
2004GoldenBell / Robinson, Robinson / ScottJill Scott#1 (album)
2006I Am Not My HairSimpson / Sanders / Ramseyindia.arie (Simpson)#97
2007Just Fine (Mary J. Blige) – ensembleAlexander /Blige / Nash / StewartMary J. Blige#22
2008Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)Beyonce Knowles / Christopher Stewart / Terius Nash / Thaddis HerrellBeyoncé#1


If you are looking for a great off Broadway production, with great music, Sistas:The Musical is highly recommended by the Museum Of UnCut Funk.

For more information about tickets and group rates please visit :

Sistas: The Musical

Written by Dorothy Marcic

Produced by Hinton Battle


Tracey Conyer Lee
Lexi Rhoades
April Nixon
Jennifer Fouché
Amy Goldberger

St. Luke’s Theater
308 West 46th Street
New York, New York

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