Betty Davis — the groundbreaking funk diva who influenced a generation of genre-defying performers such as Joi, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae — is among the list of Black female singers to be celebrated this weekend during a free marathon concert event.
The “Wall to Wall Women of Soul” festival, set to take place in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway, at 95th Street) on April 1, will run from 3 to 11 p.m. and feature performances by new and notable artists paying homage to the trailblazers who came before them.
Both in-person and live-stream tickets are free of charge.
Music by pioneers such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Aretha Franklin, Leontyne Price, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige and Chaka Khan will be presented live at the event by a total of 70 performers.
Tony Award winner LaChanze, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter J. Hoard, playwright and poet Liza Jessie Peterson, and vocalist Nona Hendryx are among those confirmed for the celebration.
Curator and producer Monique Martin says Hendryx — a founding member of iconic 1970s group Labelle — actually came up with the idea to include Davis in the “Women of Soul” lineup.
“I, myself, did not know a lot about her music… her music was not played in my home,” she said of the artist, who died last year at 77. “She was unsung for sure. So I’m really excited for people to see how Nona will honor her legacy.”
Martin also said it was a no-brainer to work with Symphony Space to make this year’s festival open to the widest possible reach.
“There’s some thinking in the industry that if we do live streaming [events], people won’t come and they’ll stay home. But that is not true,” she said, noting that people like having choices now that the pandemic is over.
“I’m happy that people everywhere can see this incredible show featuring the most badass incredible musicians and poets paying tribute to some really great women,” she concluded.