Growing up, Tiffany Mann knew of Broadway, yet didn’t realize there was a place for her there.
“Until I saw Nell Carter in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin,’ ” Mann says. “I was like, ‘Who is that woman?’ I want to know more and I got a hunger for it.”
Mann worked her way up to the Broadway stage making her debut as part of the ensemble of “Waitress.”
Mann is one of the many Broadway singers featured in the PBS special, “Black Broadway: A Proud History, A Limitless Future.” It airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1. It is also available on the PBS Video app. The American Pops Orchestra – which is founded by Luke Frazier – accompanies each singer during the broadcast.
Featured artists include television and Broadway star Corbin Bleu; Broadway performer and concert soloist Nikki Renée Daniels; and Mann who sings “Fools Fall In Love” from “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “I Got Love” from “Purlie.”
Nova Payton sings “I’m Here” from “The Color Purple,” a show in which she starred in Washington, D.C., followed by Stephanie Mills – Dorothy in the original Broadway run of “The Wiz” – with “Home.”
Mills says she thinks about what Black people have contributed to theater.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Mills says. “We’ve made our mark on Broadway and we can’t be denied.”
Additional performers include Emmy, Tony and SAG Award nominee Norm Lewis; Broadway artist and choreographer John Manzari, and teenage prodigy violinist Leah Flynn.
Broadway’s Amber Iman performs “Learn To Love” followed by Grammy winner Sydney James Harcourt with “Stan’ Up An’ Fight.”
Actress, singer and drag artist Peppermint gives her rendition of the title song from “Ain’t Misbehavin,’ ” and Payton returns to close the concert with the showstopping “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.”
Guest conductors Eric Conway, Brittany Chanell Johnson, Sean Mayes and Eric Poole.
Harcourt was honored to be part of the program because of what it means to Black performers.
“The shoulders I stand on that went through degradation and denied their chance at greatness because of racism,” Harcourt says. “I felt like, ‘Hey, it’s called the Great White Way, let’s go to Broadway Black.’ ”