31+ Musicals Written by Black Artists – A Full List

In case you didn’t know, August is Black Business Month – a time to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses! And while creating a musical might not be the first thing you think of when you think of the word “business”, it is in a way, a very specific type of business! So here is a full list of musicals written by Black artists.

I encourage you to pick a show you aren’t familiar with and give it a listen this month!

* Musicals have been listed if at least one member of the writing team is a Black artist.


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1920s-1960s Musicals Written by Black Artists

Black Nativity

Music/Lyrics: Traditional Book: Langston Hughes

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1961)

Musical Info ➝


Shuffle Along

Music: Eubie Blake Lyrics: Noble Sisle Book: FE Miller, Aubrey Lyles

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1921)

Musical Info ➝


st. Louis Woman

Music: Harold Arlen Lyrics: Johnny Mercer Book: Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen

Musical Type: Golden Age (1946)

Musical Info ➝


1970s-1990s Musicals By Black Artists

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Music: Fats Waller Lyrics: Various Book: Murray Horwitz, Richard Maltby Jr.

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1978)

Musical Info ➝


Black and Blue

Music: WC Handy, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, Big Maybelle

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1985)

Musical Info ➝


Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

Music: Waters, Mark, Duquesnay Lyrics: Gaines, Wolfe, Duquesnay Book: Gaines

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1995)

Musical Info ➝


Bubbling Brown Sugar

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: Loften Mitchell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1976)

Musical Info ➝


Five Guys Named Moe

Music/Lyrics: Louis Jordan Book: Clarke Peters

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1990)

Musical Info ➝


It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: Bevel, Gaithers, Myler, Taylor, Wheetman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1999)

Musical Info ➝


Jelly’s Last Jam

Music: Jelly Roll Morton, Luther Henderson Lyrics: Susan Birkenhead Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

Musical Info ➝


Play On!

Music/Lyrics: Duke Ellington/Various Book: Cheryl L. West

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

Musical Info ➝


Purlie

Music: Gary Geld Lyrics/Book: Peter Udell Book: Ossie Davis, Philip Rose

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1970)

Musical Info ➝


Sarafina!

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mbongini Ngema Music/Lyrics: Hugh Masakela

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1987)

Musical Info ➝


The Capeman

Music/Lyrics: Paul Simon Lyrics/Book: Derek Walcott

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)

Musical Info ➝


The Wiz

Music/Lyrics: Smalls, Graphenreed, Wheeler, Faison, Vandross, Walzer Book: William Brown

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1974)

Musical Info ➝


Working

Music/Lyrics/Book: Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, M. Rodgers, Taylor, Birkenhead, Faso

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1977)

Musical Info ➝


Contemporary Musicals By Black Artists

A Strange Loop

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael R. Jackson

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

Musical Info ➝


Ain’t Too Proud

Music/Lyrics: The Temptations Book: Dominique Morisseau

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)

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Bella: An American Tall Tale

Music/Lyrics/Book: Kirsten Childs

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

Musical Info ➝


Broadbend, Arkansas

Music/Lyrics: Ted Shen Book: Ellen Fitzhugh, Harrison David Rivers

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

Musical Info ➝


Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

Music/Lyrics: Mickey Grant

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1971)

Musical Info ➝


Fela!

Music/Lyrics: Fela Kuti Book: Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2008)

Musical Info ➝


Harlem Song

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary/Revue (2002)

Musical Info ➝


MJ: the Musical

Music/Lyrics: Michael Jackson, Various Book: Lynn Nottage

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2022)

Musical Info ➝


Motown: The Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: Berry Gordy

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2013)

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Passing Strange

Music/Lyrics/Book: Stew, Heidi Rodewald

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

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Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical

Music/Lyrics: Greg Borowsky, Douglas Lyons Book: Melvin Tunstall III

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

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Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, Des McAnuff

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)

Musical Info ➝


The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

Music/Lyrics/Book: Kirsten Childs

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

Musical Info ➝


The Color Purple

Music/Lyrics: Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray Book: Marsha Norman

Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)

Musical Info ➝


The Visitor

Music: Tom Kitt Lyrics/Book: Brian Yorkey Book: Kwame Kwei-Armah

Musical Type: Contemporary (2021)

Musical Info ➝


The Wild Party

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

Musical Info ➝


Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various Book: Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, Kees Prins

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2018)

Musical Info ➝


Want a weekly list of stage surprises?!


Which of these musicals written by Black artists is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above musicals written by Black artists? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!


Stacy Karyn, author of Musicals Written by Black Artists.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theater Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theater, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


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