Jim crow's tears

about jim crow's tears


Jim Crow’s Tears allows you a glimpse into a tortured soul. From slavery with its dehumanization to Minstrel Shows and its degradation, this musical transports you back in time when finding one's autonomy was an anomaly. It will make you cry. It will make you angry. It will make you laugh. Mostly, it will make you think.


This album takes all the negative stereotypes forced upon a people, blows them up and exposes their absurdity. It speaks to the mistreatment of a people who helped to build a nation, only to be discarded socially and legally generation after generation. 


Through one man’s tears you will be enlightened to the struggle. You will be hopeful for the future. You will be grateful for him and the progress made. You will be educated on work still to come, and how people are still contributing to the problem. Come along this journey with Kris Johnson and experience Jim Crow’s Tears.

I composed ‘Jim Crow’s Tears’ to pay tribute to those who endured dark periods in our nation and fought to implement change. This is not only a ‘black’ issue but is central to the human experience. Other cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, and lifestyles have been marginalized and faced discrimination across the world. This piece is an expression of what it means to deliver one’s mind, body, and spirit from the chains (literal or figurative) of oppression. My desire is for ‘Jim Crow’s Tears’ to provoke reflection, dialogue, healing, and positive change.
— Kris Johnson: creator, lyricist, composer


--- past shows ---

March 10, 2017 :: Rose Wagner Theater :: Salt City, UT

January 7, 2017 :: Michiko's Studios :: New York, NY

April 14, 2014 :: Charles Wright Museum of African American History :: Detroit, MI

December 12, 2007 :: Hope United Methodist Church :: Southfield, MI

March 4, 2007 :: Michigan State University :: East Lansing, MI

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Jim Crow's Tears

by Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah, and the former director of the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra, has announced the release of the soundtrack of his musical, Jim Crow’s Tears.


Johnson’s goal is to expose the absurdity of minstrel stereotypes and create conversation about their origins and how they are fed. The Minstrel Show continues today in 2016. The make-up may be different, but the damaging performance is still the same.


In light of recent tragedies, Kris Johnson, an accomplished trumpeter and composer, felt it was time for a project such as this. Jim Crow’s Tears, is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago. Kris will guide you through the life of Lucius Purifoy, expressing his highs and lows as a slave turned minstrel performer. Melodies will sway emotions, resurrecting struggles in one’s own life. This is the epitome of the human experience; tottering between hopeful and hopeless, anger and optimism, laughter and tears.


Johnson beautifully wipes away the painted smile of the Minstrel Show to reveal a conflicted soul; having to negotiate things that should be a given, rights promised yet unfulfilled. Johnson uses his genius to articulate those feelings through melody, cadence, and pitch. Listeners will feel as though they are with Lucius through a vicious beating, learning of his mother’s violation, and finally breaking free.


Jim Crow's Tears was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music.


Antwaun Stanley – Lucius Purifoy/Jim Crow
Stacey Carter – Mother Pearl/The Sapphire
Sarah Elizabeth Charles – The Mulatto
Kenny Watson – Mr. Bones
Milton Suggs – Mr. Tambo
Rusty Mewha – Massa Purifoy


Kris Johnson - Trumpet
Caleb Curtis - Alto Sax
Marcus Elliot - Tenor Sax
Vincent Chandler - Trombone
Tony Lustig - Bari Sax

Jon Dixon - Keys
Mike Jellick - Keys
Darell Campbell - Electric Bass
Nate Winn - Drums
Lauren Johnson - Percussion
Christina Manceor - Marimba/Percussion


Damien Crutcher - Conductor

Christopher Burton - Violin I
Leah Celebi - Violin II
Leslie DeShazor - Viola
Cecelia Sharpe - Cello
Miles Brown - Double Bass

Virginia Caldwell - Flute I
Shawn Wallace - Flute II
Sigal Hemy - Clarinet
Andrew Bishop - Bass Clarinet