Interview: OURStory: The Black History Musical in Town for One Night Only
by Cassiopeia Guthrie, February 9, 2023
San Diego will be home - for one night only - to Billboard-charting children's rap artist Griot B's inaugural tour of the musical production OURStory: The Black History Musical, appearing on February 13th at the Balboa Theatre.
Brandon "Griot B" Brown, who is the writer, executive producer, and star of the production, began his tour January 31 in Sacramento; the production will appear in nine cities across the state, including its turn through San Diego.
OURStory, billed as an educational and uplifting experience for audience members of all ages (and especially students of color), features music and songs from School Yard Rap albums about Black inventors, scientists, and pioneers. Brown shared that the inspiration behind the script is to tell the story that isn't often told correctly. "This story is Black History," he said. "I felt it was important to tackle the misconceptions of Black History and also how it is often taught in schools while bringing light to narratives that are needed to fill the gaps."
A former educator and assistant principal, Brown enjoys the experience of bringing this educational production to new audiences. "This entire show is a massive embellishment of my previous school assemblies and concerts," he said. "This music has allowed me to perform across the nation in schools with my DJ so to see it come to life in this grand scale is truly a blessing."
While he acknowledges that juggling the roles of producer, star and CEO has been hard on his family, as his time is stretched thin, Brown has high hopes for the show. "It is my first time ever putting on a musical," said Brown. "My first time in theater. My first time taking a cast on tour. I am learning a lot, but I believe this show is a Broadway-caliber show and I hope to meet people who can help me get it there."
He added, "I really loved the addition of choreography! It is not my strong suit, so Phil Garvin took over in this department and made it so the dancers are more than just an accompanying part to a song... they are actually telling the story of the song through their movement." The dance components appear alongside hip hop music and video walls and other theatrical elements.
To reach a wide range of audiences, School Yard Rap has structured this inaugural tour to include daytime school performances as well as evening shows. This is in keeping with his company's mission to "drastically improve the educational experiences of learners of all ages by providing curriculum, content, music, and professional development that uplifts the narratives of minorities," and it is fitting since, after all, if there's one thing Brown wants audiences to take away from the experience, it's that "Black History is more than slavery and segregation."
Audiences can see OURStory: The Black History Musical on Monday, February 13 only at the Balboa Theatre. Tickets are available at schoolyardrap.com/Musical.