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An interview with Ms. Naomi Moody

  • Written by Dr. Karanja A. Ajanaku

Naomi Moody’s Broadway credits reflect her talents as a singer and actress, and audiences have hailed her performances on several continents. Naomi Moody’s Broadway credits reflect her talents as a singer and actress, and audiences have hailed her performances on several continents. An alumnus of Hampton University, she is a vocal teacher, who continues to train youth and adults. Here she talks with the New Tri-State Defender about a special benefit on Saturday for her “baby” – the Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company.

Tri-State Defender: Tell us about the event. Are you excited about it?

 Naomi Moody, Ruby O’Gray and Andrea Thompson Adam – the braintrust behind the Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company – collectively have over 100 years of performing experience.

Naomi Moody: Yes, I am very excited. It’s a fund-raiser for the theatre group that I co-founded with Ruby O’Gray and Andrea Thompson Adam. It’s a woman-centered theatre called Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company. We focus on women getting the opportunity to do something that there is no outlet for here in Memphis, and that’s for women playwrights getting their plays on stage and produced so that they can see their work done in a professional atmosphere….

For a new playwright or someone who is intelligent, creative and talented, you don’t see their work, and it is very, very difficult unless you are doing it yourself. And who has the money to do that?

TSD: How long has the theatre company been going on?

N.M.: We’ve been doing it since 2005. We are starting our sixth season.

TSD: Is the fundraiser something you do each year?

N.M.: This is the first one, and we plan to do one every year.

TSD: How did you come up with this particular format?

N.M.: Ruby and Andrea really came up with it. Ruby is a playwright, She said, “I’m a theatre person and I write plays. We need something that will attract people and entertain them and at the same time let them become aware of us at Bluff City Theatre and what we have to offer for women and children.” We have a youth portion that we do also.

They (O’Gray and Adam) said, “Well, you sing and you’ve done a lot of work everywhere and all over the place. So maybe if you could do a show reminiscent of the old supper clubs (that Moody used to work at in Europe and up in New York), maybe we could do something like that, and it would be different. A theatrical setting but with the cabaret feel and supper club feel to it.”

TSD: What do you want people to have in their minds when they come? How should they get ready?

N.M.: Just put on some nice clothes and come and relax and enjoy the music. The music is some of the basic standards, songs that I did in Broadway shows that I was in – “Porgy and Bess,” “Sophisticated Lady,” some of the work I did when I was singing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. It’s good music that you don’t hear much of anymore. It has a jazzy feel to it.

You know, some people call me a jazz singer; some people call me an opera singer; I call myself a singer. We’re going to run the gamut with the music.

TSD: What’s next for you after this?

N.M.: After this, I’m working on a production of our next season. It’s a play called “Laugh Out Loud.” It’s not really a play, it’s an opportunity. It’s called “Laugh Out Loud” because it’s comedy. We’re going to put some of that old-school comedy in there – the old Pigmeat Markham things, Moms Mabley type stuff and then some of today’s…

“We’re going to have different comedy acts, single acts, comedy troupes. Lot’s of people want to do comedy. We’re looking for a reason to lighten up and laugh a little bit.”

TSD: Anything you want to add?

N.M.: That I hope people can come out and enjoy the evening, and get a taste of the world in Memphis.

At a glance

• “From This Moment…an evening with Ms. Naomi Moody”

• A benefit for the not-for-profit Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre – the baby of Andrea Thompson Adam, Naomi Moody and Ruby O’Gray.

• Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. at Theatreworks at 2085 Monroe.

• General seating tickets still available, $30.

• For reservations call 901-946-6140; tickets via PayPal at bluffcitytriart ­theatre.com.

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