SHESHE

Azusa Dance

 

Entertainer,  Songtress,  Actress

 

 

INFO

SHESHE was born Azusa (pronounced like Joshua without the J) Dance in Chattanooga, TN.  She grew up singing in the choir standing between her mother (Sylvia C. Dance) & Grandmother (Sylvia M. Kendrick) at Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.  She was always called upon to sing, as a child.  She would be so nervous, she would run out in tears, after every performance.  Growing up in the church, she came into her own being a lead singer & choir president.  She learned to harmonize singing among her choir members, often with no piano player.  

 

SHESHE also learned to play classical violin for nine years, in the Chattanooga City School System Music Program under the direction of Mary Kay Smith (Henry L. Barger), Jim Ransom (Brainerd Junioir High) and Grady Black (Brainerd Senior High).  This program taught her tune and pitch, something easy to find with a good ear.  Having this unique talent, she attended Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts in 1987 & 1988, after being coached by the fabulously talented Music Director Lee Norris Mackey, who saw something special in her.  This experience helped her attend college at Austin Peay State University on partial scholarship 1989-1991.  SHESHE transferedd to the University of Tennessee of Chattanooga and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice:  Law and the Courts and later earned her Assoiciates degree in Computer Programming/Data Processing from the Electronics and Computer Programming College of Chattanooga (ECPC).

 

SHESHE has always loved to sing & perform, make believing she was a star at home playimg with her sister, Akilah Jackson.  She finally got the opportunity to show her talent, outisde of the church, in an audition for the Chattanooga Lttle Theatre at age 15 for the musical play DREAMGIRLS.  After two (2) callbacks, unfortunately, she did not land a part, but enjoyed the experience.  THis lead to many theatrical/liturgical performances at her church locally/regionally.  Her unique talents and creativity landed her a job as a Bunraku Specialist with the internationally known Kids oin the Block, Inc.  through the Chattanooga location for almost  ten  (10) years, performing educational/awareness programs that included acting, singing and dancing while manipulating large hand and rod puppets.

 

SHESHE landed her first theatrical role on stage, as a part of the Ensemble & understudy for the role of Passion in the 2004 Destiny Ensemble Entertainment production of BESSIE BLUES directed by Thomas Jones at Chattanooga State Community College, where she met one of her mentors William L. Hubbard and her currect manager L Sneed.  After this experience, she landed a role in the Ensemble of The Creative Underground (TCU) production of the musical SING MAHALIA SING under the direction of Shane Morrow in 2006.  Shane became her, then and now, vocal coach, trainer and advisor.  Being bitten by the theater bug and finding her niche, she landed roles in musicals with the Chattanooga Theatre Centre (CTC) as:  Motormouth Maybelle in HAIRPSRAY 2011, Kali/Goddess in HAIR 2012  and Paulette in LEGALLY BLONDE in 2013.  Of all of these roles, she won four (4) Annie Awards through the CTC:  Audience Favorite Actress (Main) for HAIRSPRAY in 2011, Audience Favorite Actress (Circle) & Best Supporting Actress (Circle) for HAIR in 2012 and Audience Favorite Actress (Spotlight) for Paulette in LEGALLY BLONDE 2013. SHESHE was nominated for Broadwayworld/Nashville Best Actress in a Musical 2013 for her role of Paulette in 2013, as well. Other roles include Sofia in the Musical THE COLOR PURPLE 2014 with Ensemble Theater Company (ETC)[Gary Posey] and One HIt Productions/People Staff; Motormouth Maybelle in HAIRSPRAY, for the second time, 2014 with Ever After Productions [Jonathan Humble]; Nella in the play with  traditional music GEE'S BEND 2014 with Shawnuff Productions [Bruce Shaw]; and BJ in the musical SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE 2014 with Stageworks of Cleveland [Michael Myers].

 

With all the great performance experiences and her "VOICE of the SOUTH", SHESHE has landed many, many calls for lcoal/regional performances to include singing the Nation Anthem for: Roller Derby Bouts, the local LOOKOUTS baseball games 2013/2014, Chamber of Commerce events including the Mayor's Breakfast 2013 and IRONMAN triathlon 2014.  SHESHE has peformed at many special events and functions including weddings, parties, etc., but mostly important, fundraisers for great causes, such as equal rights, Tennessee Valley Pride Festival 2012/2013 and brain injury CABIA fundraiser 2012/2013.  All these great performances landed her a monthly gig in 2012 at Magoo's Restaurant thanks to the owners:  Rick Weathers & Chris Ragby and the manager Mary Bass Bryant.  THis relly helped her voice to be heard to an entirely different group of peeple locally.  She worked closely with former HAIRSPRAY 2011 cast member Wendy Tippens AKA BIG BETTE, a local singer/comedian, which opened more doors for her, like monthly gigs at the Office lounge in downtown Chattanooga and LIVE performances throughout the city of Chattanooga. SHESHE joined forces with another castmate from BESSIE BLUES & THE COLOR PURPLE, L Sneed who produced her firdt two (2) CDs Melodius Beats & Christmastime.  She enjoys collaborations and empowering others!

 

All the above life episodes, helped form and motivate SHESHE to pursue more than a hobby with her voice.  She is grateful to ALL who have come into her life and who have encouraged & supported her.  Most importantly SHESHE thanks her two (2) children Marie  and Michael, who are her biggest fans and critics.  They keep her on her toes and have given her the blessing to move on with her life after they graduated high scholl in 2008/2011.  Special Thanks goes to:  her Grandmothers, Sylvia M Price Kendrick & Lucinda Lee Cartwright Dance who spoiled her and gave her her spunk, open mindedness and her social butterfly flair; her mother, Sylvia C. Dance, who said she could be anything she wanted to be; her sister, Akilah Jackson for ALWAYS being her rock and putiing up with her, but mostly ALL those times in church trying to out sing each other; her church family who knew ALL those years there was something more than a little church girl singing hymns in harmony; Thomas Wolfe, her elementary school principal, who started every school day with music (Zippity Doo Da); her orchestra/strings/band instructors Mary Kay Smith, Jim Ransom & Grady Black who taught her more than just music; her idol Lee Norris Mackey who saw her inner talent and encouraged & coached her to audtion for Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts and not be afraid to use her talents; her Bessie Blues musical director William L. Hubbard for inspiring her to push forward and her cast mate L Sneed for producing her first CDs; her HAIRSPRAY cast mate Wendy Tippens for bringing her out of her own safety reigns; DIVA Betsy Holder for teaching her years ago to conduct a heartfelt presentation to win others over;  and last, but not least her close family friend/brother Shane R. Morrow, who sculpted/trained her vocally, encouraged her and set her free to explore the music world.  SHESHE loves and thanks ALL her close friends (DIVAS) & family who HAVE ALWAYS been there during the good times, the bad times and are still by her side.  And  THANK YOU to ALL her FANS big and small, you are ALL dear to her heart!

 

Since moving to New York City, January 2016, life for SHESHE has been nothing but promising!  A huge part of the Tennessee to New York transition was made very easy, thanks to her wonderful Aunt Eleanor Kendrick, a resident of NYC for more than 25 years.  With her aunt's NYC knowledge and an extra bedroom, SHESHE had already won half of the NYC battle...a human, on-call GPS and affordable housing!  The first few weeks were slow, but much needed for rest from years of balancing work, family, career and hobby,  Everything was changing.  Work, family and career were set free and hobby changed from a dream to reality!  Expected 6-12 month goals were accomplished in less than 3 months of arriving!  Gratefully, everything SHESHE had learned living everyday life, working various jobs and documenting /tracking her dreams and accomplishments, she was very well prepared and equipped with tools much needed to enter the NYC Theater/TV/Film industry.  

 

SHESHE landed her first showcase BOUND FOR BROADWAY by February 2016, landed her first NYC Off Broadway musical theater role in YAKI YIM BAMBOO at the 13th Street Repertory Theater by March 2016, landed both a manager with TALENT EXPRESS and legit agent with Kolker Organization, LTD. by May 2016 ;  auditioned March 2016, selected April 2016 and began singing August 2016 for MTA:  MUSIC UNDER NEW YORK program, performing three times a week, is a life member, has been approached by writer of HAIRSPRAY complimenting her rendition of I KNOW WHERE I'VE BEEN and was praised and sung MUSTANG SALLY with the one and only NYC SUBWAY IDOL ALICE TAN RIDLEY (featured TOP SOLOIST on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT  and actress GABOUREY SIDIBE mother) in TIMES SQUARE; auditioned 2016 and was selected  2016 for the legendary AMATUER NIGHT AT THE APOLLO, winning 3rd place June 2016 and returned to the stage July 2016;  landed a dream role of EVILLENE in THE WIZ with a local Off Broadway theater company and performed the song NO BAD NEWS for HARLEM SUMMER NIGHTS at the ADAM CLAYTON POWELL STATE BUILDING July 2016; was a soloist/featured singer for JAMAICA ARTS COUNCIL HOLIDAY MUSIC in QUEENS DECEMBER 2016; cast as DIONNE in HAIR THE ROCK MUSICAL produced by COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY at THE CONNELLY THEATER February 2017, in which writer JAMES RADO attended opening night and personally complimented SHESHE on her "pipes" in the role;  landed her first role in an original  carribean musical WELCOME TO AMERICA with BRAATA PRODUCTIONS April 2017;   personally contacted by casting agents from both AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, April 2017 and SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO  May 2017 to privately audition for the popular television shows.

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