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Crossing Barriers to Emerge a Legend

2/14/2017, 2:03 p.m.
“His Eye is on the Sparrow,” a stirring one-woman musical that celebrates the life of groundbreaking black artist Ethel Waters, ...
Photo by Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.tv Maiesha McQueen as Ethel Waters in "His Eye is on the Sparrow" a stirring one-woman musical that celebrates the life of a groundbreaking Vaudeville performer who broke racial barriers to emerge as a Broadway and Hollywood star. Now playing at The Armory, downtown.

“His Eye is on the Sparrow,” a stirring one-woman musical that celebrates the life of groundbreaking black artist Ethel Waters, opened this month at Portland Center Stage at the Armory, and has been extended to play through March 26.

After a rough and spirit-breaking childhood, Ethel Waters became a Vaudeville success, a recording sensation and crossed racial barriers to emerge as a Broadway and Hollywood star. But a reputation for being difficult and her own distrust of those who might employ her or love her — partly a response to the horrors of Jim Crow America — caused her to lose everything and become a recluse, until she found new strength as a gospel performer.

Through it all, there were the songs – the ones that gave her solace and the ones that made her a legend. This is her remarkable story, filled with the greatest hits of a lifetime, including “Stormy Weather,” "This Joint is Jumpin'" and “Am I Blue?”

Atlanta-based artist Maiesha McQueen returns to The Armory to perform as Waters after staring in the 2015 production of “Ain’t Misbehavin.’

Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased at pcs.org.