About the Blues City Cultural Center
Blues City Cultural Center, a performing and visual arts organization, was founded in 1979 by Deborah and Levi Frazier Jr. For nearly 40 years, BCCC has used the stage and other venues as platforms to enlighten, empower and transform lives. We believe the foundation for change can be found in artistic endeavors that ultimately help people discover new ways of engagement, expression and self-determination. In viewing the arts as an inclusionary process, BCCC provides a space in which artists, audiences and stakeholders collaborate to explore varied mediums that broaden the spectrum of creative arts. Our core values are the foundation upon which we perform our work, how we conduct ourselves and interact with others, and the strategies we use to fulfill our mission. While BCCC has evolved over the years, our values have remained constant and influence everything we do.
Empowerment. Individuals exposed to the arts recognize and use their unique gifts and creative expressions to improve their lives and build strong communities.
Activism. The arts are used to challenge and shape ideals and ultimately impact social change.
Respect. Individuals are treated with mutual respect, dignity, honesty and integrity.
Access. Individuals have access to high quality arts-based programs that build human capacity, self-reliance, and confidence.
Engagement. Artists and other stakeholders are engaged in improving the quality of life among our constituencies and their respective communities.
Equity. Works and practices reflect an equitable distribution of resources and acknowledgement of all contributors to the artistic process.
As an organization rooted in the history and culture of Memphis and the Mid-South, we consistently draw upon the experiences, issues and concerns of our constituents to present relatable arts programming that promote civic engagement, build human capacity, and contribute to the creative economy. Our projects resonate across cultures and generations by fostering dialogue, understanding and acceptance. Whether our work increases human capacity, explores issues of poverty, homelessness and violence, facilitates conflict resolution, or provides opportunities for creative expression, it celebrates the human spirit and adds voice to our shared experiences and common humanity.
Levi Frazier Jr
Whether acting on a stage, writing a script, or directing a production, Levi Frazier Jr. has devoted his life to theatre. As co-founder and managing director of Blues City Cultural Center, his artistic career parallels the development and growth of theatre in Memphis. Having written over twenty-five plays, his work has been produced all over the country including New York, Chicago, Miami, Austin, and Hollywood. A Tribute to Richard Wright was produced by invitation at the Sorbonne in Paris for the African-Americans and Europe International Conference. Down on Beale Street had a run off-Broadway at the Richard Allen Center in New York. As an actor, he appeared in Walking Tall II, The Firm, The Chamber, Her Hidden Truth, The Mississippi and numerous national commercials and industrial training films. Levi is recipient of the Germantown Arts Alliance Literary Award and the Southern Writers Project Fellowship from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. His work on Ira Aldridge, a 19th century African American actor, is archived at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. For Our Freedom and Yours, a play written by Levi, was presented during the 2017 Ira Aldridge Symposium in Poland. Levi recently a certificate of appreciation from Governor Bill Haslam for keeping the highest traditions of Tennessee through the arts. In addition to his work in theatre, Levi is an associate professor at Southwest Tennessee Community College in the Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts Department.
When Deborah Frazier co-founded Blues City Cultural Center, she envisioned a company whose creative works added an authentic voice to Memphis theatre. As BCCC project director, she focuses her efforts on ensuring that their work engages and empowers underserved populations throughout the Mid-South. As the co-creator of BCCC Signature Programs, she has introduced hundreds of individuals to the arts whereby they can improve their quality of life through creative expression. Deborah is also an accomplished actress, director and playwright. Knight Songs, a compilation of the works of poet Etheridge Knight, toured state prisons as a project of the Tennessee Commission for the Humanities. WHO AM I? For Women Who Have Seen the Rough Side of the Mountain, which illuminates homelessness among women, was presented at a national women’s theatre festival and at Southwest Tennessee Community College. She received the Gyneka Award from the Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis for her work. She was also an Arts Engagement Fellow for ArtsMemphis and a lecturer during the 2017 Ira Aldridge Symposium in Poland.
Accolades & Ovations
Over the years, we have had the good fortune to work with numerous artists. At times, we stood on each other’s shoulders and lifted as we climbed. To these artists and multitudes of supporters, THANK YOU.
Akiba Shabazz, Harold Gentry, Ron Parker, Gregory Boyd, Pat Gill, Martron Gales, Marshall Jacks, Etheridge Knight, Quincy McKay, Jon Wilson, Michael Sanders, Danny Drew, Naomi Dyson, Robert Lipscomb, Shep Wilburn, Herman Morris, Veronica Coleman Davis, Gia Eaton Broadway, Daryl Williams, Marilou Awiakta, Naomi Moody, Rose Flenorl, Joanna Redmond, Gary Rowe, Ralph Allen, Nokie Taylor, Stoy Baily, David Yellin, Wilson Clayton, Kpe Abioto, John Sullivan, James Thompson, Harold Thompson, Dr. Brenda Morris, Kimberly Yarborough, Ardia Cunningham, Jim Palmer, Jo Lynn Palmer, Drs. Jebose and Theresa Okwumabua, Bennie Nelson, Etta Johnson, Yvonne Robinson Jones, Bill Jones, Brenda Bell, Mark Bell, Michael Dyer, Ron Gephart, Jesse Lee, Wood Bell, Willie Covington, Martha Perine Beard, June Spencer, Ronald Cunningham, Lemuel Osborne, Cato Walker, Ekundayo Bandele, Willard Pugh, Glenn Sessoms, Rudy Garner, Chuck Patterson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Arthur Hall, Tommie Lee Ray, Michael Adian Davis, Michael Dyer, Willard Pugh, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Tavis Smiley, Ruby O’Gray, Dottie Royston, Phillip Bell, Verna Aldridges, Shep Wilburn, Stoy Bailey, Michel Fabre, James Thompson, Miriam DeCosta Willis, Aurelia Kyles, Joyce Cobb, Kenneth Jackson, Deborah Hardin, Danny White, Darryl Moch, Anna Deveare Smith, LaRita Shelby, Hazel Bryant, Harry Bryce, Zulu Sufula, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Glaze, Glenn Sessons, G.A. Hardaway, Julian Bolton, Martavious Jones, Reginald Tate, Don Winbush, Sam Pieh, Dr. William Ferris, Arthur Flowers, Marshall Jacks, Kim Yarbrough, Jesse Dunlap, Patty Mitchel, Lester Snell, George Caldwell, Alesxis Krasalovsky, Robert Powell, Daniel Polanu, Willie Hall, Damien White, Donald Brown, Kenneth Suggs, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, The Barkays, Nelson Smith, Carl Slappy, Artistik, Pieces of A Dream, Chen & Dancers, Righteous Soul, Sharon Reives, Steve Fox, Trinka Matthews, Hester Moore, Larry Walker, Larry Riley, Greg Ciprion, Minnie Bommer, Donald Griffith, Jasmine Miller, Sheila Darras, Mark Luttrell, Montrel Britton, Valerie Houston, Tobacco Brown, LInda Steele, Barbara Williams, Dr. W.W. Herenton, David Acey, Yvonne Acey, Rita Dorsey, Cheryl Pesce, Rainah, Jamean, Steve Cohen, Marian Crooks, Amana Ajanaku, Karanja Ajanaku, Michael Tochen, Millie Tochen, Barbara Zimmerman, Carolyn Matthews, Kellye Crawford, Willie Perry, Sequita McKinley, Erlise Taylor, Johnny Yancy, Marquin, Justin Merrick, Joseph Nelson, Robert Hines, Michael Scott, Joe Selmon, Kellie Collie, Rochelle Stevens, and Mary E. Mitchell.
Board of Directors
Chair – Joyce Cox, Manager, Memphis Housing & Community Development
Vice-Chair – Timothy L. Green Jr, Education Director, Girls Inc.
Secretary – Sandra Dallas – Workforce Specialist, Memphis Urban League
Treasurer – Sabrina Miller – Food Safety Specialist, Charms LLC
Barbara Andrews – Retired, Director of Education/Interpretation, National Civil Rights Museum
Venus Chaney – Chief Development & Advocacy Officer, Girl Scouts Heart of the South
Janis Forbes – Retired Educator, Delta State University
Faye Flowers – N-Spirer, BCCC Seek-To-Serve
Evelyn Hall Little – Associate Professor, Southwest Tennessee Community College
Rico Miller – Senior Coordinator, RISE Foundation
Judith Black Moore – Director of External Affairs, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Gary Nalley – Retired Letter Carrier, U.S. Postal Service
Rita Gibson Rayford – Director of Development, Memphis Area Attorney Legal Services
Trakela Small – Ryan Fellow
Candace Taylor – VISTA Volunteer, Leadership Memphis
Rory T. Thomas – Executive Director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center, Southwest Tennessee Community College
Robert Washington – N-Spirer, BCCC Seek-To-Serve
Andrea Marie Wilson – Total Rewards & Labor Relations Manager, The Kroger Company, Delta Division