Metro Weekly

Judith Light, Rayshun LaMarr join the American Pops Orchestra for “We Are Family”

Special concert featuring pop hits and American standards airs May 14

APO: Luke Frazier
APO Maestro Luke Frazier

The American Pops Orchestra and Nouveau Productions continue the partnership developed last year with PBS for nationally broadcast, celebrity-studded themed concerts, performed at historic local properties before of small, socially distanced crowds.

After a New Year’s Eve special featuring Audra McDonald, Patti LaBelle, and Juanes, the APO and PBS pick back up in 2021 with a return to the grounds of D.C.’s Meridian International Center, the site of its 2020 holiday concert.

Set to air next Friday, May 14, “We Are Family: Songs of Hope and Unity” will be hosted by Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Judith Light and will feature Tony-nominated star Laura Osnes (Grease), Broadway and TV sensation Gabrielle Ruiz (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Rayshun LaMarr, a star of Season 14 of The Voice, Broadway-minted recording artist Morgan James, and the local ace in APO’s pocket, Helen Hayes Award-winner Nova Y. Payton. They’ll be accompanied by the organization’s member players under the baton of Luke Frazier.

APO: Nova Payton
Nova Payton

The show will feature pop hits and American standards ranging from “America the Beautiful” to “You’ve Got a Friend,” “A Change is Gonna Come” to “I Will Survive.” “Music is an extraordinary tool that has the unique ability to bring us together,” Frazier says. “It also has the special power of healing and uniting. It’s not just a soundtrack of music we’ve come to know and love; it’s the music we need to hear now.”

The new concert is part of #PBSFortheArts, a new initiative between PBS and New York’s WNET Group intended to showcase the resiliency of the arts in America during the COVID19 pandemic. In addition to several new Great Performances episodes, the initiative will also present the new APO series “One Voice: The Songs We Share.”

Two 30-minute segments will air back-to-back on Friday, May 28, starting at 10 p.m. with a show hosted by Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child focused on church-rooted pop hits, and followed by a show looking at classic showtunes that became pop hits and hosted by Tony-winning actress Jesse Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical). 

“We Are Family” premieres on PBS and the PBS Video app on Friday, May 14, at 10 p.m. Visit www.PBS.org for more information.

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