Blues City Cultural Center, a non-profit 501(c)3 performing and visual arts organization, was founded by Levi and Deborah Frazier in 1979. Since its inception over 35 years, its primary mission has been to use the stage and other venues as platforms to enlighten, empower and transform lives. BCCC believes the foundation for change can be found in artistic endeavors that ultimately help people discover new ways of engagement, expression and self-determination. Our theatrical performances feature Talk-Back, a post-performance discussion designed to provoke further thought and dialogue about the production while enhancing the audience’s relationship to the work, the cast and creative team, and panelists and scholars. In viewing the arts as an inclusionary intergenerational process, BCCC provides a space in which artists and audiences can collaborate in an exploration of varied mediums that broaden the spectrum of creative arts, particularly among underserved marginalized populations. Our signature outreach and education programs—Seek to Serve, Hope Day Zone, Sew Much Love, and Peace in the House—resonate across cultures and generations by fostering dialogue, understanding and acceptance. Whether our work increases human capacity, explores issues of homelessness and poverty, 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 the majority of 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, will be archived at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. 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 over 35 years ago, 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. Recently, she received the Gyneka Award from the Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis for her work.
Deborah and Levi Frazier were selected as two of six living legends of African American theatre in Memphis. The other honorees included Erma Clanton, Ruby O’Gray, Tony Horn ….
Accolades & Ovations
Over the past 35 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, 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, and Chuck Patterson.
Board of Directors
Danielle Schonbaum, Chairperson
Judith Black Moore, Vice-Chair
Larry Smith, Vice-Chair
Gwendolyn Cranshaw, Treasurer
Evelyn Hall Little, Secretary
Willie Jean Evans
William Dennis Head
Tonya Sesley Baymon